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Second day of Culinary strike at off-Strip casino winds down

Updated May 13, 2024 - 6:37 pm

Hospitality workers at an off-Strip casino continued their two-day strike Saturday, calling on their employer to agree to wage increases in the next five-year contract.

Hundreds of Culinary Local 226 members — which represents about 700 servers, stewards, housekeepers and others — at Virgin Hotels walked off the job Friday to pressure the resort-casino into making a deal that accounts for inflation and other higher labor costs like peers on the Strip and throughout the region.

Virgin is the last property in the resort corridor to settle its contract that ended June 1. Most other off-Strip and downtown properties settled before a strike deadline in early February, when Culinary used the upcoming Super Bowl as leverage.

Speaking outside Virgin on Saturday, Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said the union does not plan to strike again. The next main table bargaining session is Tuesday.

About 50 union picketers, including Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, hollered through megaphones and encouraged people not to cross the picket line on Saturday afternoon. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, also walked the picket line Friday.

Inside, operations continued as normal. Temporary workers manned some spots in the resort and management said other departments in the 1,700-person organization, such as accounting and human resources, were also stepping into strikers’ shifts. TV personalities Kendall and Kylie Jenner appeared at Kassi Beach Club on Friday, according to the club’s social media.

Some guests patronizing the property said they hadn’t noticed disruptions or were unaware of the extent of the strike, assuming it was informational-only. Others said they modified their plans in response.

“We come from a union family so we decided not to support the restaurants,” said Cathy, a Buffalo, New York resident who declined to share her last name.

Property management has said recent renovations and ownership changes make it more challenging to meet the union’s proposed wage and salary increases. But Pappageorge said the union wouldn’t leave its members behind the rest of the market.

“Have you seen the Rio and all the changes they’ve made? They settled,” he said. “This is about out-of-state banks that need to allocate money for the workers like others.”

Strikers will end their picket at 5 a.m. Sunday and return to work.

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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