On June 21, Encore Boston Harbor’s 1,400 hospitality employees, which include housekeepers, cocktail servers, cooks, drivers and room attendants, officially voted 963 to 13 to approve a strike, which is set to begin on July 1 if the unions representing the aforementioned employees, UNITE HERE Local 26 and Teamsters Local 25, can’t strike a new agreement that will benefit the workers with casino-resort officials.

In addition, voting was held at Teamsters Local 25 headquarters in Charlestown between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Reasons for the strike:

The main reason for the strike is the employees’ fight for a new contract, which will guarantee them wage increases and benefits at the Everett property, which would made them equal with the other unionized hotel workers in the city. In this regard, UNITE HERE Local 26 President Carlos Aramayo, said: “The unions’ demands are very modest. We’re looking to have the same wages, benefits and work rules that exist in other hospitality employers around the Greater Boston area, whether that’s the Ritz Carlton or Courtyard Marriott at North Station. We’re not looking for anything more than what other folks who do this kind of work earn in this area and in this region.”

“Given the state of the world, we have agreed to a short contract with generous health care benefits but without the pension plan and legal, education, training, and housing benefits available to other union hotel workers,” union officials said. However, they plan to start new negotiations after two years.

As for the previous contract, it was settled throughout the COVID-19, which took a toll on the hospitality industry and closed the Encore for four months. However, it already expired in April this year and commenting on this, the boss of UNITE HERE Local 26 said: “The union has been negotiating a second contract since February.”

This possible upcoming strike would be the biggest strike by Boston hospitality workers since the 2018 Marriott strike and will last “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the unions said. Also, UNITE HERE Local 26 added that “delivery drivers with the Teamsters have pledged not to cross any picket line to deliver liquor, food, or other essential items to the casino.”

The casino-resort negotiates with the unions in good faith:

Commenting on the ongoing negotiations with the workers and the upcoming strike, Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said in a statement: “Encore has been actively bargaining in good faith with both unions since early March, with the goal of providing our employees with competitive wages, benefits and a working environment that reflects our high standards and the experience we strive to create.

“While we are disappointed that the union is instead moving to hold a strike vote, we have indicated to the union that we remain ready to continue our discussions.”

However, shortly before the strike was officially approved, during a call with BostonHerald, Aramayo said: “I am confident that the Encore workers would approve the strike authorization. Nobody wants to go on strike. But folks are ready and willing to do so if that’s what it’s going to take to bring this company to the finish line here and have them make the same wages and benefits as their siblings across the market.”

Experience in organizing strikes related to hospitality:

UNITE HERE Local 26 has previously organized strikes related to hospitality. For example:

  • 46-day strike outside Marriott hotels in 2018;
  • 79-day strike at the Battery Wharf Hotel in 2019.

In addition, employees at Bally’s Twin River Casino in Rhode Island voted to approve a strike that was scheduled to take place in June 2022, but was called off after a tentative deal was reached with management.