The lead negotiator for Culinary Workers Union Local 226 says Las Vegas Strip resorts have shown “some movement” in contract talks on wages and health care, job safety and job training, technology and other issues.
But on other issues, including workload reduction and the reinstatement of daily room cleaning, the resorts are not “nearly” where they need to be, Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator for Culinary, said Monday.
“I think we’ve been able to make some movement, but if we were having to make the decision today, it wouldn’t be enough,” he said. “And I think these workers would authorize a strike.”
That means a strike deadline for the thousands of members of Culinary and the Bartenders unions working at three major resort companies on the Las Vegas Strip could be coming shortly.
Culinary met Oct. 23 with MGM Resorts International, Friday with Caesars Entertainment and Monday with Wynn Resorts, all of which have been in talks with the union since April to establish a new five-year contract for about 40,000 unionized hospitality workers.
Those talks have resulted in some progress — but not enough, Pappageorge said.
“When these companies are making incredible profits — record profits — workers deserve record contracts,” Pappageorge said in a conference call with reporters Monday. “Cost of rent, the cost of groceries and gas, electricity — all are increasing. These companies must be prepared to share the wealth.”
He said Culinary and Bartenders union members, who voted last month in favor of a strike authorization, do not want to strike but will if they must.
Preparations are already underway for signs, storage and even portable restrooms for picket stations at more than a dozen properties, he said.
Those preparations are for what may be the “largest strike in history here in Las Vegas,” he said.
“We are preparing,” Pappageorge said. “And I would say that we’re also in good spirits. I think the workers are strong.”
Margaret Shellcross, a food server at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, who has worked at the resort since 2008, echoed the sentiment that workers deserved a “record contract” considering record visitation to the resorts after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am fighting because I believe that one job really should be enough,” she said Monday. “I’m fighting for a fair wage, fighting for my health care, my pension — I’m fighting for everybody’s families. … I truly believe that we should have a fair contract here.”
Dozens of union members, including Pappageorge, were arrested Thursday after staging an act of civil disobedience in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip after a massive rally outside Paris Las Vegas and the Bellagio. Earlier this month, thousands of union members picketed for the first time in decades at MGM and Caesars properties on the Strip.
Both events were “extremely successful,” Pappageorge said, and sent a message to the resorts that the union’s patience in negotiations is wearing thin.
“We’ve been respectful to these companies,” he said. “They haven’t moved (on issues key to the unions)… and workers’ patience is about at an end. And we can hopefully get them on the right path. But if not, we’ll be letting you know shortly about a strike deadline.”
Though the presumption that the mere threat of strike alone is enough to drive resort companies to come to a contract agreement, Pappageorge pointed to casino workers in Detroit. They went on strike a few weeks ago with many of the same concerns, and they still have no contract.
“We’re in complete solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Detroit,” he said. “And if things don’t move forward, we will be joining them shortly on the picket line.”
Following its latest bout of negotiations, the union’s negotiating committee will meet to work on the next steps and decide whether and when to set a strike deadline. Meanwhile, Pappageorge said, the resort companies will have an opportunity to respond to their workers, and “there’s every possibility that one of these companies may step up and do the right thing.”
“Every one of these companies have the ability to settle a contract, and they can settle it now if they want to,” he said. “We’re not sure why it’s so difficult, but we’re going to make sure that these companies understand that we’re ready to bargain, and, if not, then we’re going to have a deadline and then these workers will make that decision.”
Source: Las Vegas Sun
Preview Image: Shutterstock