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Culinary Union 226 leads protest on Las Vegas Strip (Photo: @culinary226)

Strike Imminent As Culinary Union Puts Casino Industry ‘On Notice’

On Wednesday night, the union ‘is excited’ to block traffic on the Las Vegas Strip

By Megan Barth, October 24, 2023 1:27 pm

In advance of further negotiations with MGM, Caesars and Wynn and days prior to a Wednesday evening “rally” scheduled to block traffic on the Las Vegas Strip, Culinary Union 226 has put the casino industry “on notice” that a strike is imminent if the union and the industry do not reach an agreement at the bargaining table.

Culinary announced plans to picket outside the Bellagio and the Paris Las Vegas on Wednesday evening. It is estimated that 75-100 protesters will block Strip traffic and will likely be arrested.

During a press conference yesterday, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said: “I’m very excited. I can’t wait to be out in the middle of the Strip on Wednesday night with my brothers and sisters that are going to join us out there for this nonviolent civil disobedience. And our goal is to send a message to these companies that it’s time to bargain.”

“We’re hoping for the best in bargaining,” Pappageorge told the press. “We’re working through proposals and preparing to bargain with them, but I think it’s time for them to make significant moves if they really do want to try to resolve this without a strike. And that’s what we’re hoping to do.”

“I don’t think we’re interested in the (resorts) knowing what our plans are,” Pappageorge said. “I think right now, our plans are to bargain very hard and to work closely with our brothers and sisters in Detroit. They’re showing us the way.”

According to the Las Vegas Sun:

Casino workers in Detroit began striking last week in an ongoing fight for “economic justice,” health care, greater contributions for retirement, protections regarding jobs and technology and more, said Jamil Johnson, a food server at MGM Grand Detroit.

“We’re fighting for respect,” Johnson said during Monday’s news conference with Pappageorge and other union members. “We are the workers who helped these companies weather the storm of the pandemic. They have made boatloads of money on the backs of our hard work. We just want our fair share.”

Workers in Detroit were driven to a strike over the same issues that workers in Las Vegas have brought to the negotiating table, Pappageorge said, so if Culinary is repeatedly unable to get the “best contract” it will be forced to go on strike as well.

The largest labor union is demanding:

  • The largest wage increases ever negotiated in the history of the Culinary Union.
  • Reducing workload and steep housekeeping room quotas, mandating daily room cleaning, and establishing the right for guest room attendants to securely work in set areas.
  • Providing the best on-the-job safety protections for all classifications, including safety committees, expanding the use of safety buttons to more workers, penalties if safety buttons don’t work, enforcing mandatory room checks for employee and public safety, and tracking sexual harassment, assault, and criminal behavior by customers.
  • Strengthening existing technology protections to guarantee advanced notification when new technology is introduced which would impact jobs, require training for new jobs created by technology, health care and severance pay for workers who are laid off because of new technology, the right to privacy from tracking technology introduced by companies, consent in third-party data sharing workers have generated through their work, right to bargain over technology that tracks location of employees or messaging between workers, and putting the human back into HR.
  • Extending recall rights so that workers have more job security and have the right to return to their jobs in the event of another pandemic or economic crisis.
  • Making clear that the no-strike clause does not prevent the Culinary Union from taking action, including strikes, against non-union restaurants on the casino property, and gives casino workers the right to respect picket lines.

Last month, Culinary announced that 95 percent of their members had voted for a strike that could impact operations at 22 casino properties throughout the Las Vegas valley. The union represents 60,000 hospitality workers making it the largest local union of Unite Here. 40,000 of those workers are working under an expired contract.

Nevada Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto announce their support on X (Screenshot)

Democratic Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto endorsed the strike in dual announcements on X (formerly Twitter) parroting the union demand that “one job should be enough.” Reps. Susie Lee, Steven Horsford and Dina Titus have also publicly expressed their support as the union uses dues and resources to support and campaign for Democratic candidates.

On a trip to Las Vegas last week, as part of her “Fight for Our Freedoms” collegiate tour,  Vice President Kamala Harris pledged her and President Biden’s support stating that “we stand with you.”

In 1991, the union led the “Frontier Strike” on the Vegas Strip that lasted for 6 years, 4 months, and 10 days. Over 550 hospitality workers maintained a 24/7 picket line. It’s considered to be one of the most successful strikes in US history.



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