Vegas Casino Workers Closer to Holding Strike

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The first strike involving casino workers in Las Vegas in decades is closer to becoming a reality. On Tuesday, a strong majority of the Culinary and Bartenders unions expressed their support for a strike through a vote, granting their bargaining committee the authority to initiate a walkout if necessary.

Possible Walkout Imminent

The strike would encompass approximately 53,000 employees involved in non-gaming roles across the Strip and downtown areas in the south. A crowd of about 20,000 workers gathered in support of the vote as they participated in two distinct gatherings at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The disagreements with casino operators encompass a wide range of non-gaming personnel, such as hotel personnel, individuals working in bars and restaurants, laundry personnel and kitchen staff in approximately 50 casinos situated along the Strip and downtown areas. Members from Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 asserted that the outcome of the ballot will bestow upon union leaders the ability to take action.

Over the course of several months, the union has been actively in talks with the Strip's three major employers, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts, which collectively employ 38,000 non-gaming staff. The protests on Tuesday were primarily a symbolic gesture, giving union leaders an outlet to assert their authority while maintaining that they are engaged in sincere negotiations with casino management.

Caesars CEO Tom Reeg expressed his anticipation for substantial employee pay hikes in the future. However, the company's spokespersons have refrained from addressing any details regarding the ongoing negotiations. Thus far, no specific date has been scheduled for the conclusion of negotiations, potentially causing disturbances in operations spanning across the Vegas Strip and the city center.

Time’s Running Out

It's possible that a contract will be reached before mid-month of November, when Las Vegas hosts the Formula One race, ensuring a substantial increase in wages over the five-year term. However, union leaders expressed doubt about reaching a satisfactory resolution by that time.

According to union estimates, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 members cast their votes in the morning session, with an equivalent number anticipated to participate in the afternoon session on Tuesday. In a powerful display of unity, the group embarked on a triumphant march down Las Vegas Boulevard at the end of June.

Las Vegas hasn't experienced a workers' strike in almost 40 years. In 1984, it saw its last full employee walkout. Although Vegas union-led employees were slated to strike in 2018, they sealed a fresh five-year agreement that avoided another walkout.