Las Vegas Casinos Strike Averted, Wynn and MGM Make Last-Minute Deals

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After months of intense negotiations, Las Vegas’ hospitality and casino workers have successfully averted a citywide strike. They have reached tentative labor agreements with three of the major operators of Nevada casino venues on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Culinary and Bartenders Union, representing a significant portion of the workforce, has today secured last-minute contract agreements with MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts.

This news, along with the deal announced earlier in the week with Caesars Entertainment, sees some 60,000 workers offered new and improved contracts, thus averting a strike with hours to spare.

Workers had previously voted overwhelmingly in favor of strike action, with a deadline of November 10.

“After seven months of negotiations, we are proud to say that this is the best contract and economic package we have ever won in our 88-year history,” said Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, who has been vocal figure throughout the recent negotiations.  

MGM Resorts and Wynn Cut it Close

The union’s deal with MGM Resorts International, encompassing about 25,400 workers across eight properties, was reached just 24 hours before the strike deadline.

Wynn Resorts joined its counterparts in reaching a tentative deal, narrowly avoiding a strike at its flagship hotel-casino and Encore Resorts. The agreement, praised for its outstanding benefits and compensation, includes historic wage increases and mandated daily room cleanings.

“We are very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with Culinary Workers Union Local 226 which fulfills our shared goal of providing outstanding benefits and overall compensation to our employees in a work environment that is second to none,” said Wynn Las Vegas spokesperson Michael Weaver.

This agreement followed a similar deal with Caesars Entertainment covering 10,000 workers, which was agreed to earlier in the week with more time to spare.

“It’s going to be the largest increase that our employees have seen in the four decades since we started interacting with the Culinary Union,” said Caesars CEO Tom Reeg, speaking in the operator’s recent Q3 earnings call.

Job Security and Working Conditions Central

Central to the negotiations were concerns over pay, job security in the face of automation in Las Vegas, and better working conditions.

The pandemic had altered the landscape of hotel operations, with daily room cleanings becoming less frequent. This change not only impacted the quality of service, but also posed potential job cuts and increased workloads for housekeeping staff.

The union’s insistence on reinstating daily room cleanings was a critical aspect of the discussions. It reflected a broader concern for maintaining high service standards and job security in the face of technological advancements and operational changes.

Wage increases are also likely to be high across the board with the new contracts. Casinos and retail sportsbooks in Nevada have seen booming revenues over the past year, alongside record visitor numbers passing through the city’s Harry Reid International Airport.

These numbers have been obvious for all workers to see, and it was central to the union’s argument throughout that workers deserve new contracts that reflect this uptick in revenues.

“Workers have secured significant raises every year for the next five years, preserved our great union health insurance, union pension, and comprehensive union benefits,” Pappageorge said.

“All while gaining historic improvements in housekeeping workload reductions, substantial improvements for workers regarding safety at work, the ability to have a say in how technology impacts our work, and ensuring the union and members can support nonunion hospitality workers who seek to join our union.”

A New Era for Las Vegas Hospitality Workers

The city’s giant casino resort operators can now look fully forward to the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix and providing the high-tier service expected with the multimillion race weekend packages on offer. The race weekend is expected to bring some 100,000 international visitors to the city.

That stands in contrast to the worker’s unions at the three Michigan casinos in Detroit. More than 10,000 employees of casinos also operated by MGM and Wynn are about to enter their third week of a general strike, with little movement on either side.

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