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Two unions, Golden Gate reach tentative agreement, avert strike

An all-night negotiating session between two unions and the Golden Gate ended with a tentative agreement Sunday morning and averted the first casino strike in more than a decade.

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 announced the agreement on a new five-year contract with the Golden Gate, which was the last remaining hotel-casino to settle with the two unions. On Saturday, four downtown Las Vegas properties settled their contract negotiations.

The union had threatened to strike at unsettled properties Sunday at 5 a.m. The session with the Golden Gate lasted beyond the deadline.

“We are pleased that we have settled new contracts with our major employers that will allow union members to have an opportunity to provide for their families through hard work under a fair contract,” Culinary secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement. “We will make sure that other casino workers in Las Vegas who aspire to the same union standard of living will be able to join our union family soon.”

The settlement with the Golden Gate concluded more than a year of contract negotiations between the unions and Strip and downtown casinos covering some 44,000 non-gaming employees, including housekeepers, cooks, food servers, cleaners, cocktail servers, and other hospitality workers.

All contracts expired June 1 last year, but contract talks began well before the expiration date.

New contracts are in place at casinos operated by MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and independent properties, including the Tropicana, Riviera, Treasure Island, Stratosphere, LVH, and Golden Nugget.

MGM and Caesars cover some 20 area resorts and were the first companies to complete contract talks.

Tentative agreements where workers will hold ratification votes next week include The D Las Vegas, Four Queens, Binion’s, Fremont, Main Street Station, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, El Cortez, and the Golden Gate.

The new five-year contracts are retroactive to June 1, 2013.

The details of those agreements, such as cost-of-living increases and other language, have not been disclosed by the unions. In a statement, the Culinary said the contracts protect workers “health benefits and pensions, improves housekeeping working conditions, and facilitates workers’ return to work in food and beverage jobs.”

In February, Culinary members voted to end contract extensions in place with unsettled Strip and downtown resorts, setting the stage for a potential strike. Several independent Strip properties settled with the unions, leaving downtown casinos alone at the negotiating table.

The last time a hotel workers strike took place in Las Vegas was in 2002 at the Golden Gate. The walkout lasted nine days. The unions held a citywide strike against the hotel industry, including casinos on the Strip, in 1984.

A Culinary strike against the since-demolished Frontier on the Strip lasted six years, four months and 10 days and ended in 1998 with the sale of the hotel-casino.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find him on Twitter: @howardstutz.

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