Casino Workers to Picket Caesars, MGM in Las Vegas as Threat of Strike Looms

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Casino Workers to Picket Caesars, MGM in Las Vegas as Threat of Strike Looms

Union casino workers voted en masse two weeks ago to authorize a strike, and now they're being asked to hit the picket lines. (Source: Culinary Union #226)

Casino patrons in Las Vegas could find themselves facing picket lines on Thursday, for the first time in nearly 20 years. 

Unions representing casino workers are calling on thousands of members to hit the Strip – in front of eight properties operated by Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International.

The Culinary and Bartenders Unions currently are in negotiations with Caesars, MGM, and Wynn/Encore Resorts, the three largest casino companies on the Strip, seeking new 5-year agreements between the operators and the people who work there. 

The previous 5-year contract terms expired in May, but the unions did agree to an extension for some workers that has since lapsed.

Under the mantra “one job should be enough,” casino workers are seeking higher wages, better benefits, job security in the face of automation, and improved safety protocols, including measures to protect workers from unruly guests. 

Big Labor vs. Big Casinos

The Culinary and Bartenders Unions represent 60,000 hospitality workers in Nevada, 53,000 of whom are based in Las Vegas. About 40,000 workers employed at 18 casino resorts are working under expired contracts. and are at risk of a major labor dispute.

The unions are asking visitors to not cross the picket lines, which are scheduled to be active from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and 5-7 p.m. at eight Caesars and MGM properties on Las Vegas Boulevard. These include New York-New York, Park MGM, Harrah’s, Flamingo, the Linq, Horseshoe, Paris and Planet Hollywood.

Two weeks ago, union members voted 95% in favor of authorizing a citywide strike. The hope was to get a deal by Oct. 6, but that date has passed and reportedly both sides appear to be at an impasse, which has union leaders clamoring about a work stoppage.

"We're not really seeing anything that's sufficient to try to avert a strike," Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge told reporters on Monday, “and that's unfortunate.”

Pappageorge, who is the union’s lead negotiator in talks with MGM, Caesars and Wynn, said discussions have been “very disappointing” and noted that the two sides were “significantly apart.”

This labor dispute, which has been ongoing since April, recently caught the attention of the White House, where President Joe Biden has voiced his support for the unions. 

“President Biden believes all workers should have good jobs with fair pay and benefits that give them the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families," Assistant White House Press Secretary Robyn Patterson said. "Las Vegas has a long union history and workers have been critical to the city’s growth and success. As the Culinary and Bartenders Unions continue contract negotiations, we urge the discussions to move forward in good faith and hope both sides come to an agreement that preserves the city’s high quality hospitality jobs and gives all workers the quality of life they deserve.”

Growing Solidarity, Union Membership reached out to MGM and Caesars for comments, but did not hear back before press time. 

Collectively, the presence of picketers will be impossible to miss along central segments of the Strip.

While picket lines outside casinos are likely coming soon, battle lines inside the casinos also are being drawn. 

As executives negotiated, workers at Alexxa’s Kitchen and Bar inside the Paris Casino (a Caesars property) joined the Culinary Union’s campaign to persuade 10,000 non-union workers to join their cause. 

That was met by the restaurant’s owner, JRS Hospitality, hiring Labor Information Services, a union-busting consultancy previously retained by Amazon.

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