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EDITORIAL: Culinary’s bully tactics bad for business

Before Wednesday, it was hard to measure the fiscal cost of the Culinary union’s reckless and economically harmful political stunts.

Verbally insulting tourists. The memos to Wall Street analysts and investors warning of strike preparations in Las Vegas — as the union and gaming companies were negotiating new contracts. The deliberate blocking of weekend Strip traffic. And the relentless harassment of Station Casinos customers and anyone and any organization with any association to the Fertitta family.

The Culinary union has deliberately discouraged visitation to Southern Nevada, even to properties that employ their own members, hard-working people who depend on income and tips from conventions and high-profile special events. And the union has consistently put demands on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which lacks the resources to respond to noninjury traffic accidents across the valley.

But now we have tangible business lost to union gamesmanship. In a full-page advertisement published in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s editions of the Review-Journal, Station Casinos called out the Culinary for chasing a convention out of a company property and out of the state entirely.

In an excerpt from a letter to Station Casinos counsel Matt Heinhold, the advertisement says, “Earlier this year … we were threatened with continued communication and possible demonstrations outside of our conference if we didn’t cancel our event. This past fall, flyers (sic) were slid under hotel room doors of a non-Stations property during a conference in Las Vegas advising recipients not to attend our spring conference.

“Due to constant harassment inflicted by the Culinary Workers Union, we were forced to cancel our contract with Station Casinos and relocated out of the state of Nevada.”

Station Casinos did not identify the company that canceled its convention, but Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications for Station, estimated the loss of more than 1,200 hotel room nights and catering at a minimum of $300,000. That figure doesn’t include additional convention attendee spending on food, beverages, gambling, spa services and entertainment.

That company isn’t coming back to Nevada. Ever. And its leaders no doubt will share their unpleasant experience with business partners.

All because the Culinary imagines a labor dispute where there isn’t one. The Local 226 represents about 44,000 hotel and hospitality workers across the valley, but has not successfully organized Station Casinos properties. The company has stated repeatedly that the Culinary can attempt to do so through a secret-ballot election. Tellingly, the union has refused to organize through secret ballot because it knows it would lose. The only thing the Culinary can offer Station workers is less income through union dues that support leaders’ salaries and political spending employees might disagree with.

The Culinary wants to organize through card check so it can give Station workers the same treatment it dishes to Station customers. A process that enables intimidation is “fair,” the Culinary asserts.

So when the union returned to Red Rock Resort and Downtown Summerlin Thursday night to block traffic and demand a “fair process” to organize, understand that what’s fair to the Culinary isn’t fair to Station Casinos or its employees — or the company that just had its conference run out of Nevada.

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