Labor Showdown Rages on Between Culinary Union and Virgin Hotels in Vegas


In the glimmering desert city of Las Vegas, a labor dispute resembling a high-stakes poker game drags on between the Culinary Union and Virgin Hotels. No resolution is in sight for the protracted disagreements in labor negotiations, as neither party shows inclination to retreat from their hardened positions.

In the crux of events last week, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union, Ted Pappageorge, scorned management’s recent offer as “unacceptable.” This offered contract represented, by the company’s own declaration, the “last, best, and final” bid to hospitality workers. This proposal, however, did little to satisfy union demands, marking the latest failure in five months of tireless attempts to close the gap of misunderstandings and reach an agreement. Consequently, workers have been kept in limbo, operating without a contract for nearly a year.

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Adding to the already tense atmosphere, the company accused the Culinary Union of failing to negotiate in good faith. Furthermore, they lodged an unfair labor practice charge against the union with the National Labor Relations Board. A missive from JC Hospitality, the parent company of the property, articulated these allegations to the union on 21 May. According to the letter, union officials seemed locked in a “take it or leave it” standpoint, and their representatives allegedly appeared reluctant to meet.

In the proclamation, the company accused the union of creating an “impossible” environment for agreement, blaming them for stalling the negotiations through what they perceived as an unfair insistence to negotiate against the management – ultimately harming team members. The letter expressed the company’s wish to finalize the negotiations so that everyone, including management and all team members, could return their focus to their business and guests.

The management nonetheless presented an amended wage and benefit proposal for a fourth time, assuring secure benefit contributions for the first three years of the contract. The commitment to the team members’ financial certainty was also expressed through a proposed $1.00/hr package increase for each of the last two years of the contract in lieu of reopening economic negotiations.

Not to be outdone, the union fired back with its own show of power, staging a two-day strike in mid-May. Union members thronged and picketed the property in dramatic solidarity. Furthermore, Pappageorge shed light on the union’s wage increase proposal, arguing its conformity to the offers presented to Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International properties, along with two dozen independent Las Vegas locations.

The union has previously secured a 10% wage increase in the first year of contracts for the majority of its workers, with total salary increases up to 32% over five-year contracts. The ball is squarely in the company’s court, according to Pappageorge. He insists the union is merely asking the company to meet the same standard that other properties like the Rio, the Sahara, and the Strat have previously committed to.

“Vegas requires sizable investments, both in infrastructure and human resources. Unfortunately, Virgin is falling short in the latter category,” Pappageorge added with palpable disappointment. The echo of his words reverberates in the tense halls of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, adding another chapter to the ongoing labor saga.