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Here are the big issues that could lead to a Strip casino strike

Updated November 6, 2023 - 4:45 pm

Bartenders, housekeepers, bellmen, servers and other hospitality workers on the Las Vegas Strip are preparing to strike Friday morning if several employers do not agree to a new five-year contract by 5 a.m.

Culinary Local 226 officials have scheduled bargaining sessions with Caesars Entertainment on Tuesday, MGM Resorts International on Wednesday and Wynn Resorts on Thursday, the union said Monday. Meanwhile, its members – representing about 53,000 members in Las Vegas – are preparing for picket lines on Las Vegas Boulevard.

“We are united with no daylight between departments,” said James Franklin, a Bellagio banquet server, adding that companies would need to “sign a fair contract” to avoid a strike.

Here’s everything you need to know as a strike looms.

Who could go on strike?

Hospitality workers at 18 properties operated by MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts would be the first to walk off the job, union officials said. The companies are the three largest employers on the Strip, covering roughly 35,000 union members.

Only one of MGM Resorts’ properties would not see an immediate walkout: The Cosmopolitan, because it came under MGM’s ownership in 2022.

What are the big issues?

- Higher wages: Union negotiators say they are fighting for “the largest wage increase ever” bargained for in the organization’s history.

Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge has said there was “some progress” on economic negotiations — the exact requests haven’t been made public — but not enough to end discussions. On the company’s third-quarter earnings call Tuesday, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg agreed that the company’s contract with the union would be a large gain for employees, calling it “well deserved.”

- Daily room cleanings: The union also is fighting for lowered housekeeping quotas and re-instituting a pandemic-era policy of daily room cleanings. Guest room attendants say they are overburdened by a more significant workload because they are more often cleaning rooms at checkout, when they are dirtiest. They also say the workflow is less safe because it sends the workers across a hotel instead of keeping them to one area where they can become familiar with guests and nearby coworkers.

Companies have previously said guests do not request such frequent room cleanings and that they don’t have the staff levels to do so.

- Stronger technology protections, notice if jobs are being cut: The Culinary union also wants to strengthen technology protections to guarantee advance notification when new tech would impact jobs. Pappageorge said Thursday that some companies proposed cutting language that would give workers six months’ notice when new tech causes layoffs or a reduction in work hours.

Other technology-related demands include the right to bargain over technology that tracks location of employees or messaging between workers.

And the union is seeking additional protections to the no-strike clause. Some restaurants in Strip resort-casinos are not unionized, and Culinary wants to make clear that the contract does not prevent them from taking action against non-union restaurants on the property.

Is this a big deal?

A Culinary strike could affect plans for the Las Vegas Grand Prix festivities, which begin six days after the strike deadline. The Formula One race is expected to bring significant attention from international broadcasts and draw in a new demographic of tourists among the estimated 105,000 spectators per day.

The last time a large-scale strike was launched on the Strip was nearly four decades ago. In 1984, Culinary and several supporting unions went on strike for more than two months at 32 properties. About 17,000 workers struck and lost an estimated $75 million in wages and benefits, The Associated Press reported in 2018.

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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