Las Vegas Culinary Union Takes to Picket Lines to Pressure Casinos Ahead of Potential Strike
The Culinary Union 2256, representing 53,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas, is escalating its efforts to secure a new contract. That’s after last month’s strike authorization vote in which 95% of members were in favor of action.
Union members intend to signal dissatisfaction at the pace of negotiations with casino industry behemoths MGM and Caesars this week. As talks seem to have reached an impasse, thousands of workers are expected to picket in front of major Nevada casino venues on the Las Vegas Strip.
While this move falls short of a general strike, as workers are expected to join the pickets before and after their shifts, it is still an action that could cause serious disruption. Las Vegas Boulevard is a busy place at the best of times, let alone with thousands of picketing workers taking up space.
The union members on the pickets are also being encouraged to talk to members of the public about the labor dispute, while discouraging potential casino patrons.
“The Culinary Union urges members of the public, customers, community allies, elected officials, and convention planners to not cross an active picket line and to stand in solidarity with workers by not eating, meeting, or staying in a casino resort during an active picket line,” said a statement from the Union.
Share the Wealth
Despite five months of ongoing negotiations, little headway has been made. The union’s primary demands encompass higher wages, enhanced benefits, and job security. The urgency of these discussions is underscored by the series of major events slated for Las Vegas this fall, including November’s much-anticipated Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.
If a general strike is called, it will most likely be the biggest strike ever in Las Vegas. In 1984, some 17,000 workers went on strike for more than 60 days.
However, given Las Vegas’ record-breaking economic picture of $1 billion dollars in casino revenues a month, any strike in 2023 would be far larger and more disruptive.
“Our goal is to try to get a great contract, because their workers have struggled, they brought these companies through COVID, brought them into this incredible recovery where they are making more money than they’ve ever made, and companies need to share the wealth,” said Ted Pappageorge, the Culinary Union’s secretary-treasurer.
However, the recent rounds of talks, particularly with MGM on Tuesday and Caesars on Wednesday, have been less than fruitful. Pappageorge noted the absence of any significant movement from these companies, fueling the union’s concerns.
Good Faith Negotiations Needed
The gravity of the situation is evident in the union’s recent strike authorization vote. A staggering 95% of its members voted in favor of a citywide strike, which could potentially affect at least 18 major properties.
Currently, the union is in the process of negotiating a new five-year contract for more than 40 properties where existing agreements have either expired or are under extension. All-day discussions with Wynn Resorts are also on the agenda. Pappageorge did not mince words when he indicated that a strike could be initiated at any time if the Union doesn’t see results its happy with.
However, leaders insist they are still “negotiating in good faith with all gaming companies,” according to the latest statement.