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Months after a strike deadline was set, why aren’t Virgin Hotels workers walking off the job?

Updated April 23, 2024 - 9:32 pm

Hospitality workers at one off-Strip property continue to negotiate with their employer, threatening to go on strike more than two months after they first considered walking off the job.

Culinary Local 226 members at Virgin Hotels are the last workers in the resort corridor to not strike a deal with their employer. While most downtown and off-Strip properties reached agreements with the union in early February — when the union used the upcoming Super Bowl as leverage — the Feb. 5 strike deadline was called off at Virgin Hotels and the union agreed to give management at the roughly 1,500-room property more time to reach a deal.

But a new strike deadline of March 9 was called and passed without agreements. Culinary held informational pickets at the property on March 21 and April 11 to put pressure on management, but still has not told members there to walk off.

When asked on Friday why Culinary workers at Virgin Hotels haven’t gone on strike, Local 226 secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge said the property has gone through a “massive remodel and the finances are different. They’re not doing as well as the Strip. They are investing a tremendous amount of money in the property, and we need to make sure they invest money into the worker also.

“We tried to give them some additional time to work through the contract issues, but that time is running out,” he said.

Pappageorge said wages were the main sticking point in negotiations. The resort management proposed no wage increases for the first three years and discussions with no specific wage proposals for the remaining two years of the contract.

“That is unacceptable,” he said.

But Pappageorge didn’t specify when a new strike deadline could be called. He said the sides were negotiating later that day and a decision could come later.

Virgin Hotels officials said the property’s recent renovation has influenced the deal-making. In a March 21 statement, the hotel pointed to the $200 million rebrand to Virgin Hotels. The former Hard Rock Hotel reopened in March 2021 under new operators and ownership, including JC Hospitality and Virgin founder Richard Branson.

“We have made significant investments in the property during its renovation and re-branding, and we believe that reaching a new, mutually beneficial agreement with the Culinary and Bartenders Unions is critical to securing the Hotel’s future,” according to the statement. “While it is unfortunate that we do not yet have an agreement, we remain optimistic that continuing negotiations will result in a positive conclusion for all parties.”

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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