Caesars Entertainment union workers to vote on new contract

Thousands of Caesars Entertainment Corp. union employees will vote Thursday on a five-year labor agreement union leaders are calling the best they’ve ever had.

Workers affiliated with Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 will cast ballots to ratify the tentative agreement reached in the early-morning hours of June 1. Workers have to vote in person and a simple majority is all that’s required for approval.

Culinary officials are not disclosing details of the deal, but spokeswoman Bethany Khan said it’s “the best contract ever negotiated with the highest wage increases and strongest protections for immigrant workers and women.”

Union leaders have been seeking an average annual increase of 4 percent over the next five years in workers’ wages and benefits. That equates to an increase of roughly $1 an hour for most union employees.

They’ve also sought technology that would enable workers in hotel rooms to immediately notify a supervisor if an employee feels endangered.

“We feel very good (about the tentative agreement),” Geoconda Arguello Kline, secretary-treasurer of the union, said on the day the tentative agreement was reached.

“We feel the company will continue to be successful and the union members will continue to have the American dream,” she said. “We’re going to have a ratification vote for the members in their committees and the members will know all the details of the contract. In respect to them, we’ll wait until after ratification to give the details.”

Caesars also is happy with progress.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative five-year agreement with Culinary that addresses key economic and personal security issues,” a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The vote is scheduled to be taken between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The contract covers about 12,000 workers at nine Strip casinos. It was the first contract reached from 34 resorts whose agreements expired at midnight June 1.

Khan said a similar ratification vote is scheduled for MGM Resorts International employees next week. MGM was the second major group to tentatively approve a contract.

She said negotiations with the remaining 15 properties are underway, but she did not specify if any agreements are pending or which resorts would be next to consider ratification votes.

Penn National Gaming, Golden Entertainment and Boyd Gaming Corp. are among the other companies with properties awaiting new contracts. Several Station Casinos properties have voted for union representation, but have yet to draft initial contracts.

Among the largest properties where contracts have expired that are not a part of larger casino groups are the SLS Las Vegas, Treasure Island and the Westgate as well as downtown’s Golden Nugget, Plaza, Four Queens, Golden Gate, the D Las Vegas, Downtown Grand and El Cortez.

About 25,000 workers overwhelmingly approved a vote May 22 authorizing union management to call a strike at any time, leaving the possibility that workers could walk of their jobs as summer vacation schedules arrive.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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