The best leverage that unions have in contract negotiations with Las Vegas casinos is the threat of withholding their labor. That leverage is now set to be deployed if necessary.
On Tuesday, thousands of union members in Las Vegas voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike that could affect almost two dozen properties on the Las Vegas strip if ongoing contract negotiations fail. Events could progress quickly now.
Unions seek new contracts with Las Vegas casinos
The Bartenders and Culinary unions in Las Vegas scheduled Tuesday’s vote earlier this month. They made clear at that time the vote was not to begin a strike but rather authorize union leadership to call for one if they deem it necessary.
Contract negotiations are ongoing between the unions and three of the biggest employers in Las Vegas:
- Caesars Entertainment
- MGM Resorts
- Wynn Resorts
Among the concessions the unions are seeking are additional security staff, easements to quotas for housekeepers, and higher wages. After Tuesday’s vote, one union leader didn’t exactly exude confidence that contract agreements are imminent.
Workers Union strike could begin soon
A press release from Culinary Workers Union Local 226 emphasized that support for a strike is strong among its members. Over 95% of them voted to authorize a strike during Tuesday’s two voting sessions.
Right now, union members are working without a contract at eight of the 22 affected properties. That number could soon escalate, resulting in further escalation on the union’s behalf.
On Tuesday afternoon, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge insinuated that to McKenna Ross in an article by the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“We’d love to be able to say we have a deal. We’re not expecting it at this point. I’ll say that we’re optimistic but after five months, we’re not getting anywhere with any of the major companies.”
The strike authorization did not come with parameters for dates. That means it could begin at any time and there is no finite cutoff which would necessitate another authorization vote by union membership at large.
If history serves as a predictor of future events, this authorization vote could provide sufficient motivation for the Las Vegas casinos to agree to terms. In 2018, negotiators averted an actual walkout by reaching an 11th-hour deal following a successful strike authorization vote.
Pappageorge shared that the unions plan to meet the casinos at the negotiating table again next week. That could be when a new contract is in place for membership to consider.
Alternatively, it could be when tens of thousands of workers start picketing on the Las Vegas Strip.