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MGM, Culinary avoid Strip strike with tentative agreement

Updated November 9, 2023 - 9:08 pm

Hospitality workers in Culinary Local 226 have reached a tentative contract agreement at Strip properties operated by MGM Resorts International, union officials said on Thursday, averting a strike of the company’s nearly 25,500 union members just before the area hosts the inaugural Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The union and MGM reached a tentative agreement on the five-year contract before the strike deadline of 5 a.m. Friday, joining Caesars Entertainment in averting what threatened to be a massive strike before the Strip is on display for the international motorsport event.

Wynn Resorts – the last operator facing the strike deadline – was still in negotiations with the union as of press time, though observers expected the parties to settle before the early morning cutoff point.

“What we’ve had this week is incredible breakthroughs,” Ted Pappageorge, Culinary secretary-treasurer, told reporters during a break in negotiations with Wynn on Thursday evening. “We’re here in the negotiation rooms with some of the negotiation committee and we are working very hard.”

MGM operates eight properties on the Strip and is the largest employer in Nevada.

Early Wednesday, Culinary a local affiliate of Unite Here also announced it has reached a tentative agreement with Caesars, averting a strike of that company’s roughly 10,000 union members. Union members at both companies still must ratify the contracts in the coming days.

“Our employees are the heart of our company and the driving force in the success we’ve enjoyed in Las Vegas post-pandemic,” MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a statement. “We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that averts a strike, gives our Culinary Union employees a well-earned boost to pay and benefits and reduces workloads – all while continuing to provide opportunities for growth and advancement.”

The parties have been in negotiations for about seven months. Contracts were set to expire on June 1, but were extended to deal with the complexity of the contracts. But extensions ended in September and the union began to publicly call on companies to agree to a contract while taking steps toward a strike.

Top union negotiators said they achieved “the largest wage increases ever negotiated” in the union’s history in the new contract, but declined to publicize specific terms before workers ratify it and while in negotiations with Wynn.

Agreements between competitors are usually identical or nearly identical to each other, Pappageorge said. He said MGM agreed to the same terms as Caesars and said those wage and benefit increases for the first year are “nearly larger” than the increases received during the entire previous contract cycle.

“We have gotten the same agreement from MGM resorts,” Pappageorge said. “I can tell you, folks are very tired right now because this is the third straight day from running from negotiation to negotiation, but it’s worth it.”

Other terms of the agreements include improvements in reducing workload, on-the-job safety, strengthening protections and severances related to job-replacing technology and extended recall rights. The union said it achieved provisions that require rooms to be cleaned daily unless a guest opts out, a push they’ve called for since the Nevada Legislature rolled back a mandate this spring.

An agreement avoids workers walking off their jobs at between 16 and 18 Strip properties right before the Grand Prix, running Nov. 16-18 and projected to bring more than 100,000 visitors to the market.

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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