Vegas Workers Strike for Better Contracts
Casinos in Las Vegas could soon be facing a customer service catastrophe in June, should unionised workers and staff decide to take up positions at the picket lines to strike for better working conditions. Online and mobile casinos fortunately won’t be affected, but the land-based industry could be thrust in to turmoil.
The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 both revealed last week that their members (around 50,000 individuals) will soon vote on whether or not to walk off their jobs at any time after midnight on May 31. The vote will take place on May 22, and will determine whether thousands of staff members will leave their jobs for good once their contracts with Vegas casino operators come to an end.
The striking workers fill numerous front-line roles, including acting as cooks, bartenders, kitchen staff, porters, housekeeping staff, and food and drink servers at over 34 popular casinos in Vegas. Among the establishments that may be the most heavily affected by the move are MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.
Move Could Impact Summer Business
Needless to say, the absence of thousands of these essential workers (as well as their temporary replacements by novices who are unaware of the roles and nuances of the jobs at hand) would certainly affect business at local casinos. Tourists and locals alike who flock to Vegas in the summer would also be affected, potentially receiving sub-par service all around.
Union representatives have been engaged in talks since February this year, attempting to pinpoint the details of new five-year contracts for workers. These new contracts would include better pay, more benefits, improved workplace safety, and also stricter policies on sexual harassment – an essential addition following the Steve Wynn scandal earlier this year.
Working to Find Solutions
Caesars has reportedly been working on improving its safety protocols to allow security staff to enter all of its hotel rooms once every 24 hours, even if guests have put up their ‘Do Not Disturb’ room signs. However, the casino revoked its proposal last week, according to representatives from the Culinary Union who were aiming to include such new rules in the revived contracts.
The last time Las Vegas was hit by a major strike was in 2002, lasting just a day before an acceptable deal was settled on. However, previous strikes in 1984 lasted for over two months, severely impacting operators’ revenues, workers’ incomes, and Vegas’s reputation as a whole. However, MGM remains confident that it will find ‘mutually beneficial solutions’ to its contract problems, a sentiment which was echoed by reps at Caesars as well.
Union ranks grew considerably in April when over 900 workers at the Palms Resort joined the Culinary Union. The venue was purchased by Red Rock Resorts back in 2016, and the new owner has expressed its disappointment at the vote and the way in which the union held its election campaigns.