Culinary Union Agrees to Contract with SLS, Downtown Grand

Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union - SLS Downtown Grand

Five more casinos and 2,400 union workers still do not have a new collective bargaining agreement.

Downtown Grand and SLS Las Vegas became the latest Las Vegas casinos to reach 5-year labor deals with the Culinary Union, a 50,000-member strong workers union in Las Vegas casinos. Five casinos in the area have yet to sign a labor contract with the Culinary Workers Union.

The deal with SLS Las Vegas involves 830 workers, while the Downtown Grand contract involves 190 workers. The Culinary Union represents wait staff, bartenders, cooks, housecleaning staff, and other casino workers.

The Culinary Union posted to its official Twitter feed: “We are pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with @SLSLasVegas. Ratification soon. This historic new 5-year contract covers 830 workers. Negotiations continue for 5 casinos & 2,400 workers.”

Full terms of the deal are not fully known, but the new contract includes a wage increase, better security for staff members, and other benefits.

The union said the deal involved “the strongest economic package ever negotiated with the highest wage increases and healthcare and pension benefits for workers.”

Culinary Union Contract’s Benefits

Previous contracts signed in June by Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts called for panic buttons for staff members, in case they were being threatened or harassed by casino customers. In the era of the #MeToo Movement, housecleaning staff voiced concerns about their safety while on the job.

In the current negotiations, the Culinary Workers Union posted it list of bargaining points on its official website: “The Culinary and Bartenders Unions have proposed new contract language to provide greater measure of security for members including workplace safety, sexual harassment, subcontracting, technology, and immigration.”

“In addition, the Union’s economic proposal seeks to provide workers a fair share of the employers’ enormous anticipated cash flows and Trump tax windfalls.”

Five Casinos Have Not Signed

The five remaining casinos with no labor contract include Treasure Island and Margaritaville on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as Golden Gate, El Cortez, and The D in downtown Las Vegas. The Culinary Union planned picketing outside The D, Golden Gate, and Margaritaville on Friday, August 3.

After Friday’s picket lines, the Culinary Union tweeted photos of the picketing with hashtags like #NoContractNoPeace and #OurFutureIsNow.

Contracts Expired on June 1

The various contracts expired on June 1. Prior to the expiration of the 5-year deals, the 50,000+ members of the Culinary Workers Union voted 99%-1% to strike on or after June 1. That vote came on May 22, giving union leaders leverage to negotiate with Las Vegas casino companies.

Despite the agreement to strike if no contract was signed, the Culinary Workers have not walked out yet. Part of that is to maintain good relations with the bosses, but part is concern about the economic fallout of doing so.

The last work stoppage in Las Vegas came in 1983. That strike cost Las Vegas casinos $75 million, which would be 5 times that amount in 2018 terms. For the workers in the 1983 strike, they went more than 50 days without work.

Ruben Kihuen and Catherine Cortez Masto

Amidst the rare bit of labor strife in Las Vegas, the Culinary Union voted overwhelmingly to support Nevada politicians which had marched with them. The union voted to endorse State Senator Ruben Kihuen for Congressional District 4.

Cristina Aguilar, a hostess at Circus-Circus, said, “Ruben has always stood in solidarity with Culinary Union members and has fought to protect workers’ rights for years. We look forward to having Ruben continue advocating for our families as a Congressman from Nevada.”

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union, endorsed Catherine Cortez Masto to be the first Latina in the U.S. Senate. Arguello-Kline said, “Catherine Cortez Masto is a hard-working Nevadan who will deliver results in Washington and fight for our loved ones. Catherine will continue the legacy and work that Senator Harry Reid has done to help our families in this state.”