Station Casinos Steak Strategy Flops, Ordered to Negotiate with Union

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In a deliciously ironic pre-vote maneuver, Station Casinos famously wheeled out sure-to-be-succulent pre-election steaks in an effort to convince their workers to vote against affiliating with the Culinary Union. With each of the 500 complimentary steaks liberally branded with the words “Vote No!”, management sought to silence the clamoring voices of their culinary workers with the promise of a tasty offering.

This peculiar event took place after the management had come under fire for serving lackluster meals through a free buffet system. Fielding consistent complaints regarding the quality of the food, Station Casinos saw a ripe opportunity to address employee concern while simultaneously enticing workers away from the prospect of union affiliation. The timing was not lost on anyone. It was only a few days before the crucial union affiliation vote in 2019, and the promise in the air was that meals would drastically improve should the employees vote against unionizing.

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Interestingly, in the midst of such culinary cajoling, the workers rejected the union with a vote count of 627 to 534, opting against affiliation. However, this meaty saga does not end there.

Following that decision, Station Casinos and its parent company, Red Rock Resorts, were directed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to acknowledge and enter discussions with the Culinary Union. The panel held the view that during the run-up to the union vote, the employers were involved in “egregious and pervasive unlawful conduct.”

The NLRB went on to accuse Station Casinos of executing a calculated strategy with the sole purpose of disrupting the workers’ freedom to select the Culinary Union as their collective bargaining representative.

These accusations and insinuations were echoes of what the Culinary Secretary-Treasurer, Ted Pappageorge, had been articulating for years; that Station Casinos had been infringing upon the law, and were obliged to negotiate with the union due to their wrongful actions that had marred the possibility of a just and unbiased election for union affiliation.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Red Rock Resorts, Michael Britt, defended the company by pointing out that the workers’ vote in 2019 reflected the desires of the majority of Red Rock Team Members. He further stated that the NLRB’s decision, which supported the findings of its own hearing officer, wasn’t unforeseen. The company is expected to file an appeal against the judgement.

The dispute spans across a trio of gaming properties: Red Rock Resort, Palace Station, and Boulder Station. Adding to the boiling pot of controversy, over half of approximately 600 unionized workers at Sunset Station Hotel and Casino expressed their intentions to discontinue the Culinary Union as their labor representation in April.

In a bid to formalize their decision, these employees purportedly began the process of signing a decertification petition. Similarly, decertification petitions were signed in 2020 by a majority of workers at Boulder Station and Palace Station.

Regardless of the controversies, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 continue to represent some 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including various roles such as room attendants, food and cocktail servers, bellmen, porters, cooks, bartenders, and laundry and kitchen staff.

As this sizzling saga continues to unfold, the tasty irony of using steak to quell a culinary workers’ union will linger in the background – a tantalizing subplot to a complicated labor narrative.