Las Vegas strike: 25,000 casino workers vote to walk out, threatening operation of biggest hotels on strip

It would be the city's first walk out since 1984

Ronan J. O'Shea
Wednesday 23 May 2018 12:30 BST
Caesar's Palace is one of many Las Vegas properties which could be affected by a strike
Caesar's Palace is one of many Las Vegas properties which could be affected by a strike (Getty Images/iStock/Cybernesco)

Las Vegas casino, hotel and entertainment workers have voted to go on strike.

Around 25,000 members of Culinary Union voted in two sessions, the vast majority of them choosing to stage a walk out in a bid to secure new, improved contracts.

As reported by CNBC, union officials want to see an increase in wages and job security, particularly protection against the increasing use of technology at hotel casinos, as well as strengthening language against sexual harassment.

Some 99 per cent of the union's members voted for strike action, which could affect properties including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

The walk out would be the first in the city since 1984, which arose as a result of management's efforts to cut labour costs and attempts to ease restrictions on working hours. The strike cost both workers and the city millions of dollars and lasted 67 days. Another strike nearly happened in 2002, but was aborted after a deal was agreed.

The contracts of 50,000 unionised workers are set to expire at midnight on 31 May, with negotiations between Culinary Union and individual casino operating companies failing to result in a settlement thus far.

Those striking include bartenders, guest room attendants, cocktail servers, food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks and kitchen workers employed at casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas.

Properties on the Las Vegas Strip could be heavily affected by strike action (Getty Images/iStock)

“A strike is a last resort," secretary-treasurer of Culinary Union Geoconda Argüello-Kline said in a statement. “We want to come to an agreement, but the union and workers are preparing for a citywide strike if contracts are not settled by 1 June.

“We support innovations that improve jobs, but we oppose automation when it only destroys jobs. Our industry must innovate without losing the human touch. That's why employers should work with us to stay strong, fair, and competitive.”

MGM Resorts International said in a statement: “A vote such as this is an expected part of the process. We are confident that we can resolve the outstanding contract issues and will come to an agreement that works for all sides. In fact, MGM Resorts and the Culinary and Bartenders Unions have scheduled talks for this week and next.”

If the strike goes ahead on 1 June, it would heavily affect visitors to casino-hotels including Fremont Hotel & Casino, Four Seasons, MGM Grand Las Vegas and Golden Nugget Las Vegas. It may also have an impact on sports fans travelling to the city to watch the Las Vegas Golden Hawks play in the NHL Stanley Cup Final.

Despite the tragedy of the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, Sin City hasn't witnessed a sharp drop in tourism, with a fall of less than one per cent.

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