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Station Casinos must bargain with Culinary at Red Rock, labor panel rules

Updated June 18, 2024 - 9:31 pm

A decision from labor courts Monday ruled a locals casino operator must bargain with Culinary Local 226 after it found the company violated national labor laws and spoiled a 2019 union election.

The National Labor Relations Board decision affirmed an April 2022 finding from a labor court’s administrative law judge that said Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos, engaged in union-busting tactics on multiple occasions through a “carefully crafted corporate strategy intentionally designed” to interfere with employee’s free choice of whether or not to select union representation.

“The centerpiece of the Respondent’s unlawful campaign was its tripart message promising and granting employees tremendous new benefits without the Union, threatening to withhold or withdraw these benefits if employees selected the Union, and implicitly threatening that selecting the Union could only lead to years of fruitless bargaining without any improvement to working conditions,” according to the 81-page decision.

It was the first of a Cemex order, or an order named for a landmark case from 2023, according to the NLRB. The new process requires a business to recognize and bargain with a union, even if it lost an election, if the business was found to have committed a labor law violation.

Hospitality workers at three Station hotel-casinos, Red Rock, Boulder Station and Palace Station, campaigned to join Culinary and associated Bartenders Local 165 unions between 2016 and 2019. The board, charged with mediating private-sector labor disputes, found Station management broke the law several times ahead of Red Rock casinos’ election by promising new benefits so the employees would reject the union. Workers at the Summerlin casino rejected the union, 627-534.

In one example listed by the board, management directed chefs in the employee dining room at Red Rock to serve free steaks to employees that were branded “Vote No!” According to the decision, food quality in the team dining room was a top concern for employees, behind pay and benefits.

The Monday decision requires Station Casinos management to bargain in good faith at Red Rock.

“This decision affirms what we have been saying for years — that Station Casinos violated the law and the company must bargain with the union because of its unlawful actions that corrupted the prospect for a free and fair union election,” Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a Tuesday statement. “Station Casinos needs to stop breaking the law and treat its workers with respect. This company is an outlier in the Nevada gaming industry, and it will be held accountable by the federal government.”

Station Casinos can appeal the decision to federal court and challenge the order to bargain with the union. A spokesperson for the company said they were still reviewing the decision, but they are likely to appeal.

“We continue to believe that the 2019 election result in favor of Red Rock and rejecting the Culinary union was a fair outcome that reflected the wishes of a majority of the Red Rock Team Members then and reflects it now,” company officials said in a Tuesday statement. “Since the Red Rock election, a majority of the team members at each of the Palace Station, Boulder Station, and Sunset Station properties have also rejected the Culinary union. In fact, we are now bargaining with the Culinary union only at one single property.”

The action comes after years of animosity between the state’s politically powerful Culinary union and Station Casinos, whose controlling owners are Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. The union has been trying to collectively bargain at several unionize Station properties for years but have not signed a contract. The company was first ordered to bargain in good faith with union employees at Red Rock Resort in a 2021 court decision.

The board ordered several remedies, including removal of employee’s images from the company’s anti-union website; reinstatement and make-whole relief for a terminated employee; removal of unlawful discipline from an employee’s record; and physical and electronic notice posting requirements, among other remedies.

Monday’s Board decision is unrelated to a seperate issue of union support at another property, Sunset Station. In April, company officials said a majority of union members at the Henderson resort-casino agreed to remove the union as their bargaining representative. Culinary at the time said it intended to file an unfair labor practice charge.

Contact McKenna Ross at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on X.

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