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Unions, casino operators poised to being contract talks

Representatives from two unions and the Strip’s two major casino operators will begin contract negotiations today covering thousands of hotel and restaurant workers at some 20 resorts.

Five-year collective bargaining agreements covering Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 members expire June 1 at Strip resorts operated by MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Union leaders, joined by worker representatives, will sit across the bargaining table in separate meetings with executives from MGM Resorts and Caesars in the initial contract talks. Five years ago it took several months of negotiations before new labor agreements were reached.

Members of the unions’ negotiating committees said in February they hope to maintain the current wages and benefits package workers have with the hotel-casinos.

“The companies and unions have worked together for decades to create good jobs,” Jeanette Hill, a casino porter at the Flamingo, said in a statement released by the Culinary. “Every contract negotiation I’ve been a part of has been different but ultimately, both sides want the casinos to be great places to work.”

A spokesman for one of the casino companies expressed optimism at the onset of talks.

“MGM Resorts International and the Culinary and Bartenders Unions have enjoyed a great partnership together for many years. Together we create unforgettable resort experiences for our customers and un­paralleled career opportunities for thousands of men and women,” Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International said in an emailed statement.

“As we enter these contract discussions, MGM Resorts plans to work with union leaders and to develop a contract that works for everyone. Amidst changing economic realities, our goal is to forge our future course together that meets the needs of the company, the union, and its members.”

The negotiations are closed to the public and the press. UNITE HERE President D. Taylor will lead negotiations for the unions. The negotiating committee will be made up of citywide union members.

Union contracts are also expiring in June with downtown Las Vegas casinos and individually owned Strip casinos, including the Tropicana, Riviera, LVH, Stratosphere and Treasure Island. Negotiating sessions have not been scheduled.

Contracts covering the two Wynn Resorts properties expire in 2015, while new contract talks with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have stalled.

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

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