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Off-Strip casino pushes back on planned Culinary strike

Updated May 9, 2024 - 7:51 pm

An off-Strip hotel-casino facing a two-day strike says it will take legal action against the union threatening to walk off the job.

Culinary Local 226, representing about 700 hospitality workers at Virgin Hotels, said Wednesday its members at the Paradise Road property will strike beginning at 5 a.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Sunday because of lengthy contract negotiations. The union has been negotiating a new five-year contract since last year. Contracts originally expired on June 1.

If the strike happens, it will make history for being the union’s first one in 22 years. The last time its members went on strike was in 2002 at the Golden Gate hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. The work stoppage could become Virgin’s first.

Virgin officials say the union is not negotiating in good faith “despite our sincere efforts to meet and negotiate.” Resort representatives said they have filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

“The Union has informed us it intends to commence a 48-hour strike on Friday, May 10th — a strike which we do not believe is in anyone’s best interest,” a statement from the property said. “Because the Union has not told us what agreements it believes are necessary to avoid a strike, we have asked the Union to join us in mediation as soon as possible. The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement without disrupting our guests and our team members’ lives with a work stoppage.

“Our commitment to providing exceptional service remains unwavering, and we continue to work towards a swift resolution that benefits both our team members and our guests. If a strike begins on Friday, we intend to take all lawful steps necessary to continue operating and providing exceptional guest service.”

Virgin’s complaint to the NLRB alleges the union engaged in “unlawful ‘take it or leave it’ bargaining, insisting that the Employer agree to its opening economic demands.” It also alleged that the union canceled a May 2 bargaining meeting, then scheduled the strike.

Union officials dispute the allegations in the complaint. During a Thursday news conference, Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said that they offered multiple bargaining dates and that bargaining sessions have gone on for five months.

“The charge is just a company stunt, and it’s unfortunate and sad that they’ve waited until the eve of the strike to even have that kind of discussion,” Pappageorge said.

He said Culinary and the company won’t meet in mediation Thursday and expects the strike to continue as planned. The next main table negotiation is scheduled for Tuesday.

Culinary workers at Virgin Hotels are the last of the union’s members 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.

Pappageorge said the bargaining groups agreed to extend discussions past February because of the property’s finances. New management took over the property, formerly the Hard Rock Hotel, and rebranded it to Virgin Hotels in March 2021.

Workers say they are striking over disagreements on the wage and benefits increases in the proposed contract. Union members at other Las Vegas-area properties received deals of a roughly 32 percent salary increase over five years, including 10 percent in the first year, Culinary previously said.

Pappageorge encouraged temporary workers to avoid crossing the picket line to grab striking workers’ vacated positions.

“There’s plenty of other work all over town,” Pappageorge said. “This is a very busy town this weekend, and those temp agencies work with companies all over Las Vegas. If they turn down work at Virgin, they can pick up work anywhere else in town.”

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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