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Wynn contract agreement with Culinary ends fears of a strike on the Strip 

The tentative five-year deal is the third announced this week between the labor organization and the gaming industry’s three largest resort operators.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

Wynn Resorts and Culinary Workers Local 226 reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract early Friday morning, hours before picket lines would have gone up in front of the company’s two Strip hotel-casinos.

The announcement follows similar contract negotiations achieved this week between the Culinary and its affiliated Bartenders Local 165 with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, which averted what would have been the first mass walkout of non-gaming union workers on the Strip in 39 years.

The tentative agreements, which will need to be ratified by employees at the 18 casino resorts operated by the three companies, cover more than 40,000 workers and establish the benchmark for the union to open contract talks with dozens of other resort operators in Las Vegas.

The agreement with Wynn covers 5,000 workers at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.

“After 7 months of negotiations, we are proud to say that this is the best contract and economic package we have ever won in our 88-year history,” Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a joint statement from the union and Wynn that mirrored remarks earlier this week.

During a Friday afternoon press briefing, Pappageorge said total wages and benefits for union workers at the three companies would eclipse $2 billion over the contract's life. He said a Culinary worker’s average salary was $26 an hour at the end of the previous contract, but under the new contract would rise to an average of $35 an hour.

Official contract language was not released, but Pappageorge said Friday the agreements include the substantial wage and benefit increases over the five-year period, workload reductions for guest room attendants, the reinstatement of daily hotel room cleaning, increased safety protections for workers on the job and expanded technology contract language.

“Economics was only one part of [the contract],” he said. “We had very difficult negotiations on very important goals and we achieved huge victories and every one of them.”

Pappageorge said the contract agreement provided “a safety net for folks” affected by the changes in technology. The companies also agreed in principle to not interfere in union efforts to organize some 10,000 workers at non-union restaurants inside their properties that are owned and operated by third parties.  

Pappageorge said earlier this week that daily room cleaning became a strike issue during the Legislature earlier this year because Culinary-backed Democratic lawmakers and Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo approved the repeal of a pandemic-era law that mandated that all hotel rooms be sanitized daily.

Meanwhile, in a statement released by the White House, President Joe Biden congratulated the unions and the companies on reaching tentative contract agreements, applauding on Las Vegas’ “long union history and workers have been critical to the city’s growth and success.”

Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Culinary’s headquarters to meet with workers and union leadership.

“As a candidate for President, I had the honor of joining Culinary Union members on the picket line and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with men and women who form the backbone of a city that brings joy to millions around the world,” Biden said.

In the joint statement, Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver said company employees deserved to work in an environment “in which they feel valued and well compensated.”  

He said the contract agreement with the unions, “fulfills our shared goal of providing outstanding benefits and overall compensation to our employees in a work environment that is second to none.”

Wynn Resorts officials did not discuss the status of the contract negotiations with the Culinary during the company's third-quarter conference call Thursday afternoon. 

However, Wynn CFO Julie Cameron-Doe said the company budgeted for increased payroll costs covering union and non-union employees during the recently completed three-month period and heading into 2024.

The agreement with Wynn was announced at 2 a.m., three hours before a strike, which was overwhelmingly approved by workers in September, would have clogged areas around the properties less than a week before the start of the three-day Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The Culinary and Bartenders have been in contract talks with the three companies since April to negotiate new five-year deals. The previous agreements signed in 2018 expired at the end of May but extensions were reached while the unions continued talks with Wynn, Caesars and MGM throughout the summer.

Pappageorge did not say when contract discussions with gaming companies representing 24 Strip and downtown properties would begin. He said the initial goal is the ratify the agreements with MGM, Wynn and Caesars soon after the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Updated at 4:04p.m. on 11/10/2023 with additional information about the agreements.


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