When What Happens In Vegas Doesn’t Start In Vegas: A Strikewatch On Casino Workers

by | Nov 8, 2023 | Bargaining/Negotiations, Hospitality, Industry, Labor Relations Ink, Labor Relations Insight, Leadership, UAW, Union Leaders, Union Leaders, Unionized Company

The AFL-CIO recently branded Downtown Detroit as “Strike City” due to three simultaneous high-profile UAW strikes. These walkouts included auto workers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield staffers, and even some UAW-represented casino workers. 

Weeks later, those three conflicts are still in various stages of (non-?) resolution, with the auto industry being the only struck entity seeing some relief. As Shawn Fain has made everyone aware, the Big Three strikes were purportedly resolved, but in a late-breaking update, Flint Engine workers have rejected the GM tentative deal, so keep watching there. 

More to our point today: Currently, the most dramatic Detroit display of this multi-industry unrest comes from the Detroit Casino Council (DCC), a coalition of five unions, including UAW, Unite Here, Teamsters, Operating Engineers, and Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters. 

The ongoing casino showdown: In October and for the first time in the DCC’s history, workers at Motor City’s three casinos – MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood Casino at Greektown, and MotorCity Casino – walked out. Four weeks later, these 4,000 workers are still picketing while the union keeps hammering away for larger raises than offered. MGM Grand Detroit is reportedly losing $1.7 million daily from the strike.

What’s happening in Vegas: For the first time in decades, the Culinary and Bartender Unions are also preparing to walk off their Vegas casino jobs. A Nov. 10 strike deadline has been looming over 18 strip casinos to the tune of 35,000 workers: bartenders, kitchen workers, cocktail and food servers, housekeepers, guest room attendants, bellmen, and more.

The biggest hospitality strike in U.S. history? Perhaps, especially in such a tourism-heavy city. On Nov. 8, the Culinary Workers Union struck a deal with Caesars Entertainment, taking 3 out of the projected 18 strike targets off the list. 

That’s somewhat good news, but this could still turn into a significant strike for Wynn and MGM Resorts, which operate some of the more popular casinos on the strip. The timing of the projected strike, however, could make the effects even more pronounced, given that Vegas will soon host the city’s first Formula 1 event in 40 years.

Some even more significant numbers: 120,000 racing fans are expected to descend upon Vegas for the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which begins on Nov. 16. Also looming in Feb. 2024: the Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium with a capacity of 65,000 attendees.

What’s the financial impact on unions? The UAW increased strike pay to $500 per week this year, which is what Detroit casino workers are receiving. Down in Las Vegas, the Culinary Union Local 226 boasts a “significant” fund through which workers will receive $300 for the first week and $400 each following week off the job. 

The union demands: Vegas hospitality workers seek raises and a post-pandemic shift back to daily room cleanings for housekeepers. That final detail concerning job security has been a sticking point in failed contract negotiations thus far. Additionally, the unions seek rules to protect workers against job losses from new technology, a tale that’s still as old as time in almost every industry.

Will Vegas Big Labor roll the dice later this week? We shall soon find out.

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