Las Vegas F&B workers vote to strike

Members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions gave their leaders a green light for a walkout if negotiations continue to stagnate.
Las Vegas strike
F&B workers are threatening to shut down much of Sin City if contract negotiations continue to falter. | Photo: Shutterstock

Nearly two dozen casino-hotels on the Las Vegas Strip are facing a possible massive walkout by front- and back-of-house food and beverage workers after the employees authorized their unions Tuesday to call a strike.

Though members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions remain on the job, their approval of using what amounts to the nuclear option in union contract negotiations will pressure 22 of the gaming mecca’s largest hospitality operations to meet their demands.

Included on the list are several provisions that address the employers’ embrace of technology. Among the concessions sought by the unions are earlier warnings of jobs being eliminated by technology; sweetened severance and health care benefits for workers who are replaced by tech; and limits on what information can be gathered about employees by tech.

In addition, the unions are asking for guaranteed input on future discussions involving technology that can detect employees’ movements and location or scan their emails. The goal, the Culinary Union says, is “putting the human back into HR.”

The unions said they are also demanding “the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the history of the Culinary Union,” but officials had refused to reveal just how much of an increase they are seeking.

Other concessions on the unions’ list are the guaranteed rehiring of workers in the event of a crisis like a pandemic; more protective measures to safeguard workers, such as “safety buttons” they can press if attacked; and tracking guests with a history of sexual harassment or other criminal activity.

About 53,000 casino-hotel employees would be covered by a new contract. Negotiations have been underway since April. About 95% of the votes cast in Tuesday’s election were a go-ahead to strike. Most have been working without a contract since Sept. 15.

The 22 Strip properties are operated by three companies: MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn/Encore Resorts.

The vote was taken as Las Vegas prepares to host 11 major conventions and entertainment events in coming months, including the giant CES conference (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), the World of Concrete and the Super Bowl. The unions are asking sympathizers not to visit the city for those events if a strike is called.

The Culinary and Bartenders unions are technically separate organizations, but both are overseen by the Culinary Workers Union, which in turn is part of Unite Here, one of the nation’s largest organized labor groups.

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