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Las Vegas casinos under threat after union vote authorises strike

By Harrison Sayers

The Las Vegas casino industry received a blow yesterday, after hospitality union members resoundingly voted in favour of authorising a citywide strike, according to a press release from the Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

Of the union members attending two meetings yesterday, over 99% of the 25,000 members of UNITE HERE’s Culinary and Bartenders Unions voted yes to authorising a strike.

The main point of contention in this industrial dispute centres around the expiration of union contracts covering 50,000 hospitality employees in the Las Vegas and Reno area, contracts which are all due to expire on 1 June 2018.

Striking workers want these contracts altered and renewed with greater assurances over the ‘security for members including workplace safety, sexual harassment, subcontracting, technology, and immigration’.

If the union members go through with the strike it would have wide-ranging consequences for both Las Vegas and Reno’s casino businesses, as both rely on the workers to function.  A total of 34 casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas stand to be affected as a result of any action, with bartenders, guest room attendants, cocktail servers, food servers, porters, bellman, cooks, and kitchen workers employed at the casino resorts  among those striking.

Discussing the decision to authorise a strike, Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union said: “A strike is a last resort. We want to come to an agreement, but the union and workers are preparing for a citywide strike if contracts are not settled by June 1.

“We support innovations that improve jobs, but we oppose automation when it only destroys jobs. Our industry must innovate without losing the human touch. That's why employers should work with us to stay strong, fair, and competitive.”

This would not be the first time that Las Vegas has experienced a strike of this sort by workers. In 1984 the Culinary Union led thousands to strike on the Las Vegas Strip in an action which lasted 67 days and severely impacted the cities hospitality industry, only ending after new contracts had been settled.

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