President Biden Visits Las Vegas, Congratulates Unions
President Joe Biden visited Las Vegas on Sunday and Monday, making campaign appearances ahead of the Nevada democratic primary January 6.
Unlike his Republican presidential rival Donald Trump — who courted favor last week with Red Rock Resorts owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta — Biden focused on meeting with union members and media figures instead of the heads of Nevada casinos.
The powerful Culinary Union 226 chapter has seen significant victories in recent months in negotiations over new contracts with Sin City casinos. Some 65,000 workers have received record pay increases amid other benefits and job security packages across two rounds of negotiations.
“I make no apologies for being the most pro-union president in America,” Biden said Sunday night at a reelection campaign rally.
“I came to say thank you — not just thank you for the support you’ve given me the last time out and this time, but thank you for having the faith in the union.”
Biden arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday, ahead of today’s Democratic primary vote. The incumbent president has only one challenger on the ticket, Marianne Williamson, as Senator Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota) missed his filing deadline in the state.
Biden is expected to win handily with more than 90% of the vote, as he did in the South Carolina Democratic primary over the weekend.
During his visit to the Silver State, the president attended a campaign event with the owner of The Las Vegas Sun, Brian Greenspun, at the media mogul’s residence in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.
He also visited Vdara, a nongambling resort hotel on the Las Vegas Strip owned by MGM Resorts International. There he met with union leaders and MGM execs before heading to a campaign rally at the Pearson Community Center.
At both events, the president congratulated union workers and leaders on their recent victories. In November 2023, unions agreed on new contracts for 60,000 workers at casinos owned by the big three operators, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts.
Over the weekend, the unions agreed on contracts for another 6,000 employees at the independent Las Vegas casinos, mostly located in the downtown area.
“Wall Street did not build America. The middle class built America. Unions built the middle class. There would be no middle class without the unions,” Biden said.
While doing his national tour before the primaries, Biden also visited Detroit, where union workers at the city’s three Michigan casinos went on a long three-month strike in 2023 before finally agreeing on improved contracts in December.
Resort Fees in the Spotlight
Although Biden didn’t mention the hot-button topic of resort fees while in Las Vegas, he did post about “junk fees” on social media afterwards. That was a thinly veiled statement of intent to the Las Vegas resorts.
The controversial tactic of putting resort fees on top of the headline price of booking a Las Vegas room on travel sites is one almost all the major operators engage in. In fact, just this January, MGM Resorts put the fees up at its Las Vegas Resorts by between $5 and $15 from the previous $37 rate.
While these are hardly the most egregious example of junk fees, any legislation to eliminate them in other industries will also have an effect on casino resorts. And Biden has made it clear he’s a big supporter of doing so.
“When companies sneak hidden junk fees into family bills, it can take hundreds of dollars a month out of their pockets and make it harder to make ends meet,” the president posted on X while in Nevada over the weekend.
“That might not matter to the wealthy. But it’s real money to hardworking families—and it’s just plain wrong.”