Culinary Workers Union Reaches Agreement with Caesars, MGM

Caesars Workers Union Deal - MGM Resorts Casino Strike

The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, site of the ongoing 2018 WSOP, is one of the Caesars properties which would have been affected.

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, a 50,000-member strong Las Vegas casino union, reached a tentative 5-year deal with MGM Resorts on Saturday. The Culinary Workers Union reached a similar deal with Caesars Entertainment on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday night, a tweet from the union explained, “BREAKING. We are pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with @MGMResortsIntl. The historic new 5-year contract covers approximately 24,000 workers at 10 casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Bethany Khan, a spokeswoman for the Local 226, confirmed with the Chicago Tribune Sunday that a tentative deal was in place. When asked by the same newspaper for a comment, MGM spokeswoman Mary Hynes said her casino company would defer to the workers union on the story.

Deal with Caesars Entertainment

Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are the two largest casino companies involved in collective bargaining with the Culinary Workers Union. Several other smaller companies, including Station Casinos, have to reach deals with the union. The union represents a broad swatch of casino workers, including housekeepers, porters, bellmen, bartenders, cocktail and food servers, cooks, and other kitchen workers.

Job Security and Harassment Training

The union was holding out for job security, workplace training, and better wages. The workers wanted the casino companies to share some of the profits the casinos would reap from the $1.5 trillion tax break, which lowered the corporate tax rate by over 15% in many cases.

Workers also wanted promises that the casino would not invest in automated technology, which certainly would eliminate jobs in the casinos. Beyond assurances from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, union leaders wanted assurances in writing that the union contract would be honored, if the casinos involved in the deal were sold.

The union also wanted better job training for management and staff on sexual harassment. The workers asked for casinos to protect them from customers who harassed them on the job, though it is unknown at present if those provisions are in the final agreement.

Workers Voted to Strike in May

On May 22, the 50,000 members of the Local 226 voted 99% to 1% to approve a strike, if a deal was not reached by June 1. The previous 5-year deal ended on June 1, though the union leaders agreed to withhold a strike as negotiations trailed into the first days of June.

In preparation for the possible strike, union members had been signing up for strike pay, financial assistance, and picket shifts. Now it appears that those measures will not be needed — at least for the next 5 years.

Previous Casino Workers Strike

The last time a casino workers union staged a strike was in 1983. That strike cost the union members $75 million in lost wages, while the casinos themselves lost an undisclosed amount that is assumed to be much larger.

Casinos had made contingency plans in case a June strike was called. Though the casinos declined to provide details of their plans, they had let it be known that the casino properties would have remained open. Replacement workers and managers would have been needed to carry out tasks that union members normally provide.

Caesars Properties Involved in Negitiations

All of Caesars’ Las Vegas Strip resorts would have been involved in the strike, if it had happened. The properties affected includes Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas, The Cromwell, The Flamingo, and The Linq. Off-Strip Caesars properties like the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino also would have been affected.

2018 WSOP Colossus Event Begins

Since 2005, the Rio All-Suite Hotel has been the annual site of the World Series of Poker event. The WSOP currently is taking place, with events beginning last Tuesday. The first major event — the Colossus $565 buy-in No-limit Texas Hold’em¬†event — started on Saturday.