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Majority of Boulder Station employees vote for union representation

A majority of employees at Boulder Station has voted for union representation by Culinary Local 226.

Station Casinos management acknowledged the results Tuesday from the secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board Friday and Saturday, adding they hope the election brings the union’s “corporate terrorism” to an end.

A total of 532 of the 576 eligible employees voted with 355 approving Culinary representation and 177 voting against it.

The union vote came after workers at a Station Casinos-managed tribal casino in Northern California, the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, California, in July 2014 ratified the company’s first union contract. Boulder Station is the first Station property in Nevada to unionize.

“We applaud the tremendous courage and determination of the Boulder Station workers, who have resoundingly rejected the company’s anti-union campaign to discourage and scare them over the years, especially over the last two weeks,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, said in a union release announcing the results. “Workers at Boulder Station have made their choice to unionize and we look forward to contract negotiations starting as soon possible.”

Station Casinos issued a statement Tuesday that said while management was disappointed in the results, the company would begin collective bargaining with the union, Southern Nevada’s largest with 57,000 members.

“We have been harassed and vilified for almost two decades because the Culinary Union refused to let our team members have a fair choice through a secret-ballot election process,” Richard Haskins, president of Station Casinos said Tuesday in a statement.

“While we are disappointed with the manner in which the union conducted the Boulder Station election campaign and with the election result, we accept it and will satisfy our legal obligation to bargain in good faith, with a sincere desire to reach agreement,” Haskins said. “We trust this brings an end to the corporate terrorism campaign waged by the union against us that was based on the falsehood that the U.S. government is incapable of conducting a secret-ballot election.”

David Schwartz, director of the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, said he was surprised by the results, but wasn’t ready to label it a huge union victory.

“It’s an evolving process and this definitely marks a new stage,” Schwartz said Tuesday.

He said it won’t be determined how meaningful the vote is until terms of the contract are drafted.

“It may or may not be, depending on how it plays out in terms of the contract and how long that takes,” Schwartz said.

Union officials wouldn’t say why they targeted Boulder as the first Station Casinos’ property to seek a vote or where they would seek a vote next.

“Our company has enjoyed great success because of the hard work we put in every day to provide great service and hospitality,” Maria Portillo, a food runner at Boulder Station, said in a statement. “We deserve to have a union contract that gives us job security, fair wages, good health care and a pension, so that we can have the opportunity to provide for our families through our hard work.”

The Culinary Union typically organizes on a property-by-property basis and not as a casino group.

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

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