In Las Vegas, yesterday reportedly saw some 25,000 members of two local trade unions overwhelmingly vote to authorize strike action if their leadership cannot agree on new five-year employment contracts with some of the city’s most prominent casino operators by the end of the month.
According to Tuesday reports from the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper and local television broadcaster KSNV-TV, the members of the Local 165 branch of the Bartenders Union and the Local 226 chapter of the Culinary Workers Union are employed as housekeepers, bartenders, cooks, porters and bellhops at 34 Las Vegas venues operated by the likes of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming Corporation, Penn National Gaming Incorporated and Golden Entertainment.
The unionized workers’ current employment contracts reportedly expire on May 31 and they want their representatives to negotiate new long-term deals that incorporate higher wages, better health benefits, more workplace safety measures and greater protections from redundancies caused by the use of modern technologies such as self check-in terminals. If such fresh arrangements cannot be reached, the Tuesday ballot held via two sessions inside the Thomas and Mack Center sports complex purportedly saw 99% of the membership authorize their leadership to call a citywide strike.
However, the unions, which are moreover seeking increased protections for immigrants holding temporary employment status, reportedly detailed that they may not call a strike even if deals are not reached by the May 31 deadline. Just such an incident purportedly occurred in 2002 when members of the Culinary Workers Union authorized a walkout but nevertheless continued to work as both sides negotiated.
“A strike is a last resort,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary Treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, reportedly told KSNV-TV. “We want to come to an agreement but the union and workers are preparing for a citywide strike if contracts are not settled by June 1.”
Las Vegas reportedly experienced its last citywide strike by casino workers in 1984 with the 67-day action impacting 32 venues eventually said to have cost union members and operators a combined $150 million in lost revenues. James Kraft, who wrote a book about the action, purportedly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the historic walkout had also resulted in city and state budgets losing millions more in tourist-related taxes while the picketers had been supported by union-funded programs.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation spokesperson Rich Broome reportedly told the newspaper that his firm anticipates reaching an agreement that will avoid a strike while MGM Resorts International purportedly released a statement detailing that it remains ‘confident’ of resolving the dispute by finalizing ‘a contract that works for everyone’.
“While new technology may change the way some jobs function, we will always rely on the skill and personal touch that can only come from our employees,” reportedly read the statement from MGM Resorts International.