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Union tactics targeting Station Casinos verge on harassment

Over the past eight years, Station Casinos awarded more than $1.7 billion in construction projects here in Southern Nevada to approximately 150 companies that use union workers.

Right now, eight local union construction companies are involved in six remodeling projects at Station Casinos properties.

So when Station Casinos Vice President of Construction Joe Haley found out last week that the Southern Nevada Building & Construction Trades Council has asked its membership to boycott Station Casinos properties, he says he was "completely blindsided."

The undated missive to members was signed by Building & Construction Trades Secretary-Treasurer Darren Enns. "It’s true that a lot of work at Station Casinos went to union workers, but a lot of work went to non-union companies as well," Mr. Enns said Wednesday. Unions are "being attacked across the country and need to stick together," Mr. Enns says. "We would like to see Station Casinos settle their dispute with the Culinary."

But what precisely is the dispute between the casino company and Culinary Local 226?

The hospitality union and its affiliated Bartenders Local 165 say they’ve been trying to "organize" roughly 5,000 of Station Casinos’ 13,000 employees for several years. But the verb is a bit misleading.

Workers have a right to unionize, and labor peace can be valuable to the city’s economic recovery. But the solution needn’t involve anyone contacting out-of-town conventioneers scheduled to visit Station properties and urging them to stay away, as the Culinary has been doing — potentially damaging the entire local economy.

The Culinary stunt Thursday night — holding a rally at Red Rock Resort at the same time the property was hosting "The Night of the Gael," an annual fundraiser for Bishop Gorman High School — was a particularly offensive move designed to do nothing but harass and intimidate.

Nor is it clear how these new calls for boycotts by fellow union members get the Culinary any closer to the vote required to determine whether Station employees want to go union.

All the Culinary needs to do is collect signatures from 30 percent of the employees in any potential bargaining group, and then ask the National Labor Relations Board to schedule a secret-ballot unionization election at that property. The fact that union officials have thus far declined to exercise this option — resorting instead to these polarizing guerrilla tactics of economic intimidation — speaks volumes about how they believe they would fare in such a vote.

The very construction workers being asked to boycott Station properties could find themselves with less work in future as a result of these tactics.

The unions apparently believe strong-arm tactics designed to get more people paying union dues to pad executive salaries are more important than whether existing union members continue to find work.

Because this isn’t about jobs, wages or working conditions, at all. It’s about being allowed to generate union dues out of local paychecks, without even giving the workers a vote in the matter.

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