Las Vegas Hospitality Workers Vote: Pivotal Step Toward Casino Industry Wage Upliftment


In an exertion for a fair share of the booming corporate earnings, Las Vegas’s hospitality workers, the throbbing heart of the city’s legendary casinos and hotels, were asked to cast their votes on Tuesday, deciding whether or not to sanction a strike amidst ongoing contract discussions. Revolutionizing labor dynamics, the recent years have seen a significant rise in unionism, from strikes to work stoppages, across diverse sectors.

Running concurrently with President Joe Biden’s solidarity visit to United Auto Workers strikers at a picket line in Michigan, this decisive vote could set a new direction for labor relations. Notably, the Culinary Workers Union, renowned as Nevada’s political colossus, has steered clear from striking for more than 30 years. Now, around 53,000 housekeepers, cocktail and food servers, porters, cooks, and bartenders from Las Vegas were participating in this potential game-changing event.

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The union’s objective lies in securing preferable remuneration, benefits, and working conditions as it continues to negotiate with Las Vegas Strip’s premium employers, including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment. Consequence of a possible walkout could jeopardize operations in over three dozens of casinos and hotels, potentially disrupting the city’s economic spine.

An echo of the promise from previous statements, the secretary-treasurer for the union, Ted Pappageorge, proclaimed that the toiling workers are entitled to a fair share of the corporate windfall during this flourishing era, necessitating the power of collective bargaining to secure a livable income from a single job.

As stakes ran high, MGM Resorts committed to express its perspective post the release of the voting results on Tuesday. However, Caesars Entertainment remained muted, not immediately responding to requests for comment. Meanwhile, the trend favoring labor unions nationwide has heightened this year, embodied in demonstrations from Hollywood to auto production factories, revealing an increased willingness among workers demanding higher wages, improved working conditions, and job security to walk off the job, displaying an indispensable work-force facing mounting pressure from employers amid a severe labor shortage.

The Culinary Union, the largest labor union in Nevada with a proud roster of roughly 60,000 members, circled its power around the cities of Las Vegas and Reno. This important vote took place exclusively among the Las Vegas workers, encompassing rent-rolls at esteemed properties such as the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Caesars Palace among others.

This awakening of the union echoes an earlier assembly from 2018, where, following strike authorization votes, five-year contracts were promptly signed, satisfying the aspirations of the majority of the 25,000 participants on the brink of job renunciation.

Dating back to 1991, one of the longest strikes in U.S. history occurred at the now-defunct Frontier Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Despite a grueling stretch of over six years, the union stated that all strikers, comprising more than 500 workers, resumed their prior roles, duly compensated with back pay and benefits.

On a similar note, during the previous summer, the casino workers’ union at Atlantic City successfully negotiated exemplary contracts, offering its members significant pay hikes, the highest they had ever received. Moreover, any prospects of future strikes were effectively thwarted for an extended period, providing a crucial reprieve to Atlantic City’s casino sector as it endeavored to rebound to its pre-pandemic performances.

Previously, the Atlantic City union’s agenda primarily revolved around preserving healthcare and pension benefits. However, with the soaring costs of living such as food, rent, and gasoline, seeking substantial pay hikes became necessary to sustain a decent lifestyle.

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