Come Sunday morning, Fremont Street could be recovering from a typical Saturday night in Las Vegas, or there will be labor unrest.
It all depends on how contract talks proceed between the ownership of five downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos and representatives of Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165.
The unions have called for a strike starting at 5 a.m. Sunday at the Four Queens, Binion’s, Plaza, Las Vegas Club and Golden Gate, where new collective bargaining agreements have not been settled. The old five-year contracts expired a year ago. Contract extensions ran out in February and the unions set a strike date 10 days ago.
All casinos on the Strip covered by the union contracts settled their contract negotiations by March.
As for downtown, the unions reached deals with the Golden Nugget in April, the Fremont and Main Street Station — which are owned by Boyd Gaming Corp. — on Monday, and the D Las Vegas on Friday.
Contract talks are expected to continue with unsettled hotels through the weekend.
Union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said in a statement that roughly 1,000 restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, cocktail servers, bartenders, and other union members would walk off their jobs at the appointed time at any of the hotels where contracts have not been agreed upon.
If there is a strike, Culinary and Bartender members will carry picket signs in front of each entrance of the targeted casinos, including entrances along the Fremont Street Experience. The striking workers are expected to be joined on the picket lines by workers from properties that have contracts.
Union members constructed several thousand picket signs this week in preparation for a strike.
Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin, however, hopes the signs won’t be needed. While he admitted he hasn’t been involved in the talks, Coffin said “reading the tea leaves” seem to point toward settlements by Sunday morning.
“Chances are, everybody has appointments to negotiate,” Coffin said. “Now that the majority of the hotels are in some sort of agreement, it makes sense the others will settle.”
The contract agreement reached with ownership of the D Las Vegas was similar to deals agreed upon with other downtown properties, the union said. The pact, which must still be ratified by employees, is retroactive to June 1 of last year.
“The new contract protects the union standard in downtown Las Vegas,” Culinary secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement. “We are not done until all our members get a fair contract.”
D Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens is also the majority owner of the Golden Gate. He declined comment Friday.
Operators of the Plaza, which is owned by the same company as the Las Vegas Club, also declined to comment on the talks or any contingency plans if a strike takes place.
A spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the agency was watching downtown closely.
“There is still time for the remaining properties to reach an agreement,” convention authority spokeswoman Dawn Christensen said in an email statement. “We won’t speculate on what may happen. The LVCVA is aware of and continues to monitor the situation affecting some properties downtown.”
Culinary and Bartenders union contracts covering 40,000 workers citywide expired a year ago. At the same time, Culinary members voted to approve a 60 percent increase in dues to create a fund that would support workers during a strike.
The unions settled the contracts with the largest companies, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp., that covered 20 Strip resorts.
In February, Culinary members voted to end contract extensions in place with unsettled Strip and downtown resorts, setting the stage for a potential strike. Several independent Strip properties settled with the unions, leaving downtown casinos alone at the negotiating table.
The last time a hotel workers strike took place in Las Vegas was in 2002 at the Golden Gate. The walkout lasted just nine day. The unions held a citywide strike against the hotel industry, including casinos on the Strip, in 1984.
A strike against the since-demolished Frontier on the Strip lasted six years, four months and 10 days and ended in 1998 with the sale of the hotel-casino.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.