Business
Green Valley Ranch workers vote to join Culinary Union
By
Megan Messerly
Green Valley Ranch as seen Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

UPDATE, 10:15 PM, 11/9/17:

The Culinary Union announced it has won the election at Green Valley Ranch with 78 percent of the vote.

“This latest victory by Station Casinos workers is a testament to the courage and resilience of working people,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, the union’s secretary-treasurer, in a release. “We welcome the new members to the Culinary Union, and applaud the Green Valley Ranch organizing committee for their hard work to get their co-workers to stand up and demand a better future for themselves and their families.”

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Green Valley Ranch Resort could become the third Station Casinos property in Nevada and the first luxury off-Strip casino to unionize depending on the outcome of a two-day labor election that begins today.

Workers at the upscale Henderson casino will vote on whether to join the politically powerful Culinary Union in a secret-ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board today and Thursday. The union and Station Casinos have been embroiled in a yearslong fight over efforts to unionize the properties, with the union lobbing complaints of unfair labor practices at the casino company, which has fired back by painting the union as a bully in its attempts to encourage unionization and accusing it of waging “a war of corporate terrorism.”

The election at Green Valley Ranch will be “the largest election ever for the Culinary Union,” said union spokeswoman Bethany Khan in a text. Roughly 890 workers at Green Valley Ranch — cooks, service workers and housekeepers — stand to be represented by the union, dwarfing the approximately 580 and 590 workers at Boulder Station and Palace Station, respectively, where a majority voted to unionize last year. The union represents 57,000 workers in hotels in Las Vegas in Reno.

Workers at Boulder Station overwhelmingly supported unionization in September 2016, voting to join the Culinary Union 355-177. Palace Station employees narrowly opposed unionization 266-262 a month later, but Station Casinos eventually agreed to a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board after union officials accused the company of manipulating the vote by offering raises days before the election.  

If union proponents prevail when the vote is announced Thursday night, workers at Green Valley Ranch will likely be able to join contract negotiations that are already underway for the workers at the other two Station Casinos in Nevada, Khan said. Workers at a Station Casinos-managed tribal casino in Northern California, the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, California, ratified the company’s first union contract in July 2014.

“We’re excited, the workers at Green Valley Ranch are excited and we look forward to the company respecting the results of the election and coming to an agreement on a first contract,” Khan said.

But, as they have in the past, the union has accused Station Casinos of not remaining neutral leading up to this election. Khan said the company is “running an anti-union campaign” but that the union is “confident that workers will prevail.” A spokeswoman for Station Casinos did not comment on Tuesday about any efforts by the company to oppose the election.

Station Casinos has long advocated that any efforts by workers to seek representation by the Culinary Union should be done through a secret ballot, as today’s election will be. The union, however, originally pushed for a card-check process where workers are approached by union leaders to sign union-provided cards requesting representation.

“We have said all along that if a fair and lawful election is held we will abide by the results,” Richard Haskins, president of Station Casinos, said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal last year.

The union finally reached a contract agreement with the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas in December, one year after a majority of the hotel’s more than 500 eligible employees voted to unionize.

Updated 11-8-17 at 7:27 a.m. to correct and include additional information provided by the union. It is actually the largest election in Culinary Union history, and the agreement with Trump International Hotel took one year, not two.

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