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Culinary pushes back strike deadline for downtown casinos

Updated February 1, 2024 - 7:22 pm

Hospitality workers and 10 downtown Las Vegas hotel-casinos will have several more days to close deals on a new five-year contract, Culinary Local 226 said Wednesday.

About 2,600 union members working for downtown and some Strip resorts were preparing to go on strike at 5 a.m. Friday if they did not reach deals with the property operators.

The union extended the strike deadline for the 10 downtown properties to 5 a.m. Monday, but the Friday deadline remains the same for three independently operated Strip and off-Strip properties — Rio, Sahara and Virgin.

The Plaza reached a tentative agreement early Wednesday morning for its 250 unionized workers, the first downtown property to do so.

“We’re pleased to have (the tentative agreement),” Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel said. “We’re happy that our team members are going to be recognized.”

“We’ve been working hard since last year to win historic contracts, but we aren’t done yet. It’s time for workers to get a fair contract and have security for themselves and their families. Corporations are making record profits and workers deserve to have record contracts,” Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the union, said in a news release. “Workers at the other Strip independents and downtown deserve the same wage increases, benefit protections, safety and technology language, and reductions in workloads as the rest of the Las Vegas Strip and they are organized and ready to fight for it.”

Despite the changed deadlines, Culinary plans to begin continuous picketing of all 13 unsettled properties — as of press time — beginning 10 a.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Saturday. The demonstration is not a strike, though the union said it will still urge customers to not cross the line Friday and Saturday.

The union set a strike deadline earlier this month to push for deals roughly one week before the region hosts Super Bowl 58, when an estimated 330,000 visitors are expected for the national event. Union officials said they are making picketing plans should the strike deadline pass.

Negotiators began conversations with downtown employers in mid-January, weeks after the Strip deal was solidified and after the holiday season. Union officials say they are meeting with employers on Wednesday and Thursday to continue discussions. Culinary officials have said they want to set a “historic” contract that has similar gains to what was earned with the Strip’s three largest employers last fall. Those include increased wages and benefits, a daily housekeeping requirement, protections from job-replacing technology, workforce safety measures and more.

A source close to the negotiations at a downtown property said the sticking points were the economic portion and the daily housekeeping requirements. The source said their concern is that the labor market for guest room attendants is already challenged.

Union members ratified a deal with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts in November. The union threatened to strike several days before the Formula One race, putting pressure on operators to finalize the contract agreement. Pappageorge said that union negotiators meet with employers weekly or daily to work on their respective agreements but not enough progress has been made.

Culinary is fighting for a new city-wide five-year contract for its members. It represents housekeepers, servers, bellmen, porters, bartenders and kitchen and laundry workers across the valley.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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