The Nevada Independent

Your state. Your news. Your voice.

The Nevada Independent

Workers beginning a 48-hour strike at Virgin Las Vegas hope to send a message

Off-Strip resort is the last remaining property from the 2023 negotiations that has not settled a new contract with the Culinary.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

Giovanni Guerrero wasn’t even born 22 years ago when Culinary Workers Union Local 226 last called a strike by its workforce at a Las Vegas resort.

But early Friday morning, Guerrero, 18, found himself on the picket line in front of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas just seven months after starting his first real full-time job since graduating from Valley High School. 

A kitchen steward at the off-Strip resort, Guerrero was one of 700 non-gaming workers from the Culinary and affiliated Bartenders Union Local 165 participating in a 48-hour strike to call attention to the stalled contract negotiations with JC Hospitality, the owner-operators of the Virgin. 

“I'm kind of distraught on the fact that it seems like we should be able to reach an agreement for both sides,” said Guerrero. “I think they can give us a better economic package.”

Standing nearby was his father, Juan, who has been a kitchen employee at the property for nearly 20 years since the hotel-casino was known as Hard Rock Las Vegas at Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue. 

In Spanish through a translator, he said how proud he was of his son.

Workers walked off their jobs at 5 a.m. Friday and set up picket lines near Virgin’s entrances. The abbreviated strike is scheduled to end Sunday at 4:59 a.m.

Inside, hotel guests checking out after their stay served as their own bellmen, carting their luggage from their rooms to the hotel lobby. Upstairs, top executives and other employees of JC Hospitality cleaned rooms to prepare for the weekend.

“In the short term, we’ll get through this,” JC Hospitality President Cliff Atkinson told The Nevada Independent. “I'm proud of all of our team members, whether they decided to strike or whether they decided to do something else. For those who came to work, we're thankful. At the end of the day, it's the 1,700 team members, including the 700 Culinary [workers] that I care about.”

Union and JC Hospitality representatives said contract talks will resume Tuesday. Virgin, which changed senior management last summer and announced last week that Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment would be replaced as the casino operator, is the only property from last year’s contract talks that has not agreed to a new five-year deal.

Guests at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas stand near the entrance to the casino on May 10, 2024. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Aaron Mahan, a food server at Virgin’s Kitchen Commons, serves on the Culinary’s negotiations committee and is also a union shop steward at the resort. Like the elder Guerrero, he has been employed at Virgin since it was Hard Rock and Kitchen Commons was known as Mr. Lucky’s.

He said the offer put on the table by JC Hospitality did not have any salary increases during the first three years of the five-year contract. 

“They have to come to the table with more than zero,” Mahan said. “[We] want what every other hotel got. We don't want to strike but they're forcing us into it. Give us … what everyone else got — a fair, living wage.”

The unions spent much of 2023 negotiating new five-year deals reaching agreements with the three major Strip casino operators — MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts — in November. More than two dozen downtown and off-Strip resorts settled contracts through February.

The Culinary said the 32 percent salary increase over five years — 10 percent in the first year — was the largest in the union’s 89-year history. The average worker earned roughly $28 an hour under the previous contract — including health and pension benefits. By the end of the new five-year deal, the average worker will earn $37 an hour, including benefits – roughly $77,000 a year based on a 40-hour workweek. 

The contracts also included workload reductions for guest room attendants, the reinstatement of daily hotel room cleanings, increased safety protections for workers on the job and language covering the expanding use of technology and artificial intelligence and how workers can be retrained or receive financial benefits if their jobs are replaced.

Even though a strike had been authorized by Virgin employees, the unions extended the negotiating periods until calling for Friday’s abbreviated strike.

Atkinson said Friday that JC Hospitality “put a significant economic proposal on the table to the union that we have not received a response on yet.” He said the offer “is the citywide Strip proposal.” 


Featured Videos

7455 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy Suite 220 Las Vegas, NV 89113
Privacy PolicyRSSContactNewslettersSupport our Work
The Nevada Independent is a project of: Nevada News Bureau, Inc. | Federal Tax ID 27-3192716