Approximately 35,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas are poised to initiate a strike on November 10 if they fail to secure new labor contracts with casino and resort operators MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Encore Resort by that date, unions said.
The chosen date, which falls only six days prior to the inaugural Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, when over 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the Strip, aims to work as a definitive deadline for workers and employers to reach an agreement.
The contracts with MGM, Caesars, and Wynn expired in September, following several extensions. A recent strike authorization vote by Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions members revealed that 95% of workers were in favor if necessary. Currently, approximately 35,000 workers are operating with expired contracts, and they would be the first to participate in the strike if an agreement is not reached by that date.
A total of 18 properties, excluding The Cosmopolitan, which was acquired by MGM in May 2022, are preparing for a walkout should negotiations fail. Strike deadlines at other resort operators could also be imminent.
Should a strike be declared, the union will urge customers to refrain from crossing picket lines at resorts potentially taking center stage during the Formula One events.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been at this — we’re into our seventh month — and it’s time for these companies to sit down and negotiate,” Culinary Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said, as per Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If they’re not willing to do that, then we’re going to ask customers to take their money and spend elsewhere. We have a huge network and ability to communicate with workers across the country and we will do that.”
Negotiations between the casinos and Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions have been ongoing for seven months. Leaders of the Culinary Workers Union are intensifying their preparations for what they anticipate will be the most extensive hospitality worker strike in U.S. history.
They are organizing 45 strike stations and multiple picket lines around casino resorts on the Strip, enrolling workers for strike pay and shifts on the strike line, all while urging companies to agree to a new contract promptly.
During the initial week of the strike, culinary workers are expected to receive a minimum of $300, followed by $400 per week for workers participating in picketing for 20 hours per week. The union is fortified by a substantial strike fund and receives support from its international union, UNITE HERE, and the AFL-CIO.
The last citywide strike held by the Culinary Union occurred in 1984 when 17,000 union members from 32 Strip resorts engaged in a strike alongside other unions. However, some property-specific strikes have taken place in the decades since. This potential strike comes as other industries, suckh as entertainment and auto, witness employee demands for improved compensation and benefits to counter rising living costs and a competitive labor maret.
The unions are demanding increased wages, protections against job-threatening technology, reduced housekeeping quotas, and improved safety measures for workers. Unions represent a wide range of workers, including housekeepers, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, and laundry and kitchen workers.