Threat of historic Las Vegas casino strike ends with labor deal

There was labor peace in Las Vegas Friday morning as the culinary union reached its third tentative labor agreement in three days with a casino operator.

The union that represents more than 35,000 cooks, servers, bartenders, housekeepers and other workers at 18 major casinos has threatened to stage the largest strike in the history of the U.S. hospitality industry starting at 5 a.m. , local time, Friday.

Instead, it announced a tentative deal with Wynn Resorts, which followed similar agreements Thursday with MGM Resorts International, owner of eight of the casinos, and Wednesday with Caesars Entertainment, owner of nine of the casinos.

The deal with Wynn was reached Friday after all-night negotiating sessions Tuesday and Wednesday at Caesars and MGM.

“We strongly believe that only the most talented and knowledgeable employees, working in an environment where they feel valued and well-compensated, can deliver our unique experiences to Wynn and Encore guests,” said Michael Weaver, Wynn spokesperson. Las Vegas. “So we are very happy that we were able to reach an agreement.”

The three interim agreements must be ratified by rank-and-file members before they can come into force and end the risk of strike action.

But while details of the agreements were not immediately available, the union’s chief negotiator called the agreements “historic” and “life-changing” for members, many of whom must work two jobs to support themselves. needs and those of their families.

In addition to wage increases, the union said the agreements include reductions in room attendant workloads, mandatory daily room cleaning (which is a workplace safety issue for the union), protections increased safety for workers on duty, expanded technology. contractual clause and extended withdrawal rights in the event of dismissal.

“After seven months of negotiations, we are proud to say that this is the best contract and the best economic agreement we have won in our 88-year history,” said Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the union and chief negotiator.

“With this new collective agreement, hospitality workers will be able to provide for their families and thrive in Las Vegas.”

In Las Vegas, typical rents are up nearly 40% compared to pre-pandemic times, according to Zillow. Typical rent peaked at $1,861 per month in July 2022, a 38% increase from $1,351 per month in July 2019.

Since that peak, rents in Las Vegas have fallen slightly, following national trends, and the typical rent in the city was $1,808 in September of this year. But this remains 33% higher than the rent in September 2019.

The average culinary union member in Las Vegas earns $26 an hour in wages and benefits, but the union has not disclosed how much of that goes to wages and how much goes to benefits such as premium-free health care and a traditional retirement plan. a monthly benefit to retirees.

Although terms of the agreements were not immediately available, the union said Wednesday that the agreement at Caesars immediately added about $4.57 an hour in additional money intended for a combination of pay and benefits social. The union said there would be additional raises over the five years of the contract.

Friday’s strike at nearly all of the city’s major casinos reportedly came at a particularly bad time. The city is hosting an F1 Grand Prix which will include part of the Strip (the city’s most famous avenue) as a race track.

Testing is scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week, with the race itself scheduled for Saturday, November 18. Concerts and other events are also scheduled and, according to some estimates, the weekend is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors to the city.

In total, the city has about 150,000 hotel rooms, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Strikes and union victories, both on the rise

Unions have flexed their muscles this year, bringing the number of workers on strike to levels not seen in decades. There have been 348 strikes so far this year, an increase of 56% compared to the same period in 2021, according to a strike tracker maintained by the University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations Cornell.

American unions have made significant progress in recent negotiations, sometimes with a strike, sometimes without.

Recently, SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, went on strike for nearly four months against major studios and streaming services before reaching its own tentative agreement Wednesday evening.

The deal came after the United Auto Workers union reached agreements with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis that included guaranteed wage increases of 25% over the life of the contract, which runs through April 2028, and adjustments to the cost of living which could increase the salary. of most workers by more than 30% when combined with guaranteed wages.

A coalition of Kaiser Permanente unions won raises totaling 21% during the four-year deal, reached after 75,000 union members staged the largest health care strike in U.S. history .

And the Teamsters union reached a deal with UPS in July that averted a strike by more than 340,000 members on Aug. 1, which included a minimum $7.50 hourly wage increase over the duration of the contract and an increase in delivery driver wages by 18% to $49 per hour.

It also removed a lower wage level for many union members and gave larger pay raises to some part-time workers.

But some unions have still failed to agree on new contracts, including 3,700 members of a coalition of unions – which includes the Teamsters and the UAW – who have been on strike at three Detroit casinos since October 17 . One of these casinos is owned by MGM.

And about 15,000 union members have led a series of intermittent strikes against 65 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California since July 4.

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