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Culinary to set up ‘informational pickets’ on the Strip; ask visitors to not cross lines

The union plans to demonstrate twice on Thursday in an effort to spur lengthy contract talks.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

Culinary Workers Local 226, which has been involved in lengthy contract negotiations with the Strip's largest employers since April, plans to form “massive” informational picket lines in front of the companies’ resorts Thursday and will ask visitors not to enter the hotel casinos.

Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge, who has been leading the negotiations with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts, said talks in the past week have been “very disappointing.”

Union members will set up the picket lines twice and each will last for two hours, beginning at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at three locations along the Strip. The picket lines at MGM’s properties will take place in front of New York-New York and Park MGM. There will be two Caesars protests; one picket line in front of Harrah’s, Flamingo and the Linq, and a second in front of the Horseshoe, Paris and Planet Hollywood.

Pappageorege said Monday the sides are “significantly apart” on salary and benefit issues and union members, who overwhelmingly voted to authorize negotiating committees to call a strike last month, want to send a message to the three casino companies that cover 38,000 non-gaming workers.

“We’re dollars apart, significantly,” Pappageorge said. “The companies made zero economic proposals or counters, and one made something so minimal, that was really not consequential.”

The unions have not set a date for a strike, which could disrupt operations along the Strip. Gaming analysts said they expect some sort of deal — with double-digit wage increases over the course of a five-year contract period — to be reached before Las Vegas is in the international spotlight for the mid-November Formula One race, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of high-spending visitors to Las Vegas.

Pappageorge said union members working at the properties would be on the informational picket lines before or after their shifts at work.

“Workers [will] come out before work or after work,” he said, “These are lawful pickets that do not disrupt work.”

However, he said the union members will ask patrons of the properties not to cross the picket lines during the two-hour protests.

Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for Culinary Union, during a Culinary and Bartenders Unions strike vote while gathering at Thomas and Mack Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

“This is really about [trying] to send messages to these companies, that they're really walking down the wrong path,” Pappageorge said. “We're hoping to get a clear, strong message across and give these companies some opportunities to reverse course.”

“We're hoping for more bargaining and we're willing to sit down and bargain,” Pappageorge added. “A strike is serious. Nobody wants a strike at the end of the day. We'll have to do what's right to protect [the workers’] families and their futures.”

Representatives from MGM Resorts and Caesars did not respond to a request for comment about the planned informational pickets.

While Thursday’s protests will focus on MGM Resorts and Caesars, Pappageorge said the union has also had disappointing contract talks with Wynn Resorts.

He said the major groups of issues on the table include salaries and benefits, workload reduction in housekeeping, safety and the use of technology.

Contracts between the properties and unions formally expired at the end of May, but the union said it reached an agreement on contract extensions with most Strip properties and that any wage increases agreed to in a final contract would be retroactive.

However, earlier this month, the unions said the contract extensions with MGM, Caesars and Wynn ended. While terms and conditions of an expired collective bargaining agreement covering wages, benefits and job security largely remain in place, the no-strike provisions are no longer in effect, allowing workers to walk off their jobs.

The last citywide strike by the resort industry labor union took place 39 years ago.

Updated at 4:16 p.m. on 10/9/2023 to reflect that MGM Resorts and Caesars did not respond for comment.


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