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Las Vegas Casino Workers Vote for Strike

- May 23, 2018 By Oliver Young -

Las Vegas strike could hit the city hard

Tens of thousands of workers could walk away from casino jobs any day in June, should no agreement be reached.

A business catastrophe is looming over the world’s most popular gambling city as thousands of employees are threatening to walk away from their jobs during any time in June. The authorization of a city-wide strike came last night after two sessions of voting by nearly 25,000 members of the Culinary Union in Vegas.  If the strike goes as planned, it would seriously affect the businesses of Caesar’s Entertainment and MGM’s 13 casinos in Vegas where the majority of workers from the union are employed.

Strike Given a Green Light

The voting was conducted yesterday, on Tuesday, when thousands of union members began arriving at the University of Nevada since the morning hours to vote, some reportedly showing up in uniforms, others wearing red shirts with the words “Vegas Strong” written on them. The ballots were cast in 2 different sessions during the day while the results came late last night.

The Culinary Union is one of the biggest labor unions in the state of Nevada, counting employees from 34 different resorts. The last time members joined together to vote for a strike was in 2002, but the strike never came as employers decided to reach an agreement before the walk-out. If a new deal isn’t’ reached again by the beginning of June, Vegas could see another strike like the one in 1984 when workers held their ground for an unbelievable 67 days.

Such an event would be a major blow to the city as it would mean the loss of thousands of workers who have crucial roles in maintaining the local entertainment and casino industry. Not only is the Culinary Union consisted of cooks, food servers, bartenders, and waiters, but it also has members with other vital positions like housekeepers, bellmen, and porters. With high-profile properties like the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, and Planet Hollywood at risk, the potential strike will give the union a great position to bargain.

New Contract Terms Needed

The reason for the strike is the expiry of contracts of around 50,000 union workers by the end of this month. Negotiations for new contracts have been ongoing since February but no agreement was reached thus far. Some of the contractual improvements asked by the union are better wages for the staff, better job security from the increasing uses of new technologies by training, as well as a tighter stance on sexual harassment.

According to the secretary-treasurer of the union Geoconda Arguello-Kline, who spoke to CNBC, the union has been negotiating with employers but casinos still haven’t agreed to give workers the improvements they need “according to the economy”.

So far, only representatives from MGM resorts responded to the vote results by confirming they are in negotiations while representatives from Caesars – the second operator that would be hit the hardest – have yet to comment on the matter. Caesar’s was also at the center of another major strike proposal back in 2016, when workers from 5 Atlantic City casinos voted to walk out if their job benefits did not improve.

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