Caesars Palace, union agree on contract for dealers

The Transportation Workers Union and Caesars Palace have reached a deal on a new labor contract for casino dealers, ending almost five years of on-and-off again union negotiating with the owners of the Strip hotel-casino.

Gary Thompson, a spokesman with Caesars Entertainment Corp., confirmed Wednesday that the property and union management have agreed to terms on a contract for the dealers but declined to comment on the proposed contract.

The contract will be presented to Caesars Palace dealers for ratification on July 26. The TWU contract represents dealers at Caesars Palace and not dealers at the company’s nine other Las Vegas properties.

Messages left with Joseph Carbon, director of gaming with TWU Local 721, were not returned. Some 560 Caesars Palace dealers voted to be represented by the union in 2007.

The TWU is considering trying to organize dealers at one of Caesars Palace’s sister properties in Las Vegas, the Rio. The union is promoting a vote by posting election cards on its website on a page dedicated to Rio dealers, and reminding them to “sign your card.”

For the TWU, the deal with Caesars Palace is the second one reached with a Strip hotel since the union arrived in Las Vegas in 2000. The other contract for dealers at Wynn Las Vegas was ratified in 2010.

Last year, the Caesars Palace dealers voted 305-2 to reject a proposed contract that union leadership did not endorse. That contract included a tip-sharing provision with casino management.

Those tip-sharing rules were not completely eliminated from the new contract. Caesars Palace has not implemented a tip sharing policy with its dealers.

The resort is unlikely to implement the policy until the Nevada Supreme Court rules on the tip-sharing policy. Wynn’s tip-pooling program was enacted in August 2006, which led to the resort’s 400 full-time and part-time dealers joining the TWU.

The union does not represent dealers at Wynn’s sister property Encore.

In July 2010, the Nevada Labor Commission declared the practice legal. In November, Clark County District Court Judge Kenneth Cory ruled the labor commission erred when it determined the Wynn Las Vegas tip-sharing policy passed legal muster.

As of Wednesday, the Nevada Supreme Court has not set a hearing date.

Dealers, who earn little more than minimum wage, receive as much as 90 percent of their incomes from tips. The union also gained job-security provisions like grievance and arbitration clauses for Caesars Palace dealers.

The clauses were similar to protection against at-will terminations at Wynn Las Vegas. Both are important provisions in Nevada, which is both a right-to-work and at-will employment state.

As a right-to-work state, no one can be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment; “at-will” means employees and working conditions can be terminated “at any time and for any reason.”

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at
csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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