Las Vegas casino workers picketing in push for contract
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Unionized housekeepers, bartenders and other casino workers in Las Vegas stepped up their efforts to secure new labor agreements Friday when they picketed for the first time during this year’s round of contract negotiations.
Dozens of members of the Culinary Union held signs and loudly demanded a new contract outside the D in downtown Las Vegas as patrons and others walked by amid triple-digit temperatures. A day earlier, the union and the property failed to reach a tentative agreement during a bargaining session.
The contracts of 50,000 unionized workers in Las Vegas, including 400 employed at the D, expired earlier this year. The union and casino operators have reached five-year agreements covering 42,000 of those employees, but the rest work at 13 casino-hotels that are still in negotiations.
Ronald Gladstone, a kitchen worker at the D, said he wants his new contract to include strong job security language because wages and benefits, such as health insurance and a pension, don’t matter if the worker doesn’t have a job to begin with. He said he has worked at the same property for 29 years despite changes in ownership.
“A lot of these people are tough, and they are fighters, and they are ready to come out here and endure the heat than just stand and accept anything,” Gladstone, 52, said after stepping away from the picket line. “By seeing us out here today, it sends a message that if we don’t get a contract, they can expect this on a daily basis and that wouldn’t be helpful for both sides.”
The D owner Derek Stevens on Friday declined to comment on the picketing lines and status of contract negotiations.
The deals reached so far this year with casino operators include yearly wage increases, language against sexual harassment, job protections in the event casino-hotels are sold and the requirement that every housekeeper be given a wireless device to alert security in the event of a threat. The union has said it is demanding those same standards from the companies still negotiating agreements.
The Plaza casino-hotel on Monday became the latest casino to reach an agreement. In addition to the D, the union said negotiations continue for Treasure Island, Tropicana, Westgate, Binion’s, Downtown Grand, El Cortez, Four Queens, Fremont, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, Main Street and SLS, including the W Hotel.
Workers also planned to picket Friday outside the Westgate casino-resort near the Las Vegas Strip.
Marc Morgan, a bellman at the D for four years, said he was picketing for a contract that increases wages and protects his job, but also that keeps him and colleagues safe while at work through requirements like the wireless devices for housekeepers.
“What happened Oct. 1 should send a message not just to the D, but to all hotels, that, you know, all their workers are at risk,” Morgan, 58, said. “We don’t know who comes in these rooms, we don’t do background checks on all the guests. It’s vitally important that we are protected.”
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