Sunset Station Casino Workers Seek to Ditch Culinary Union Ties

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In a latest development that sends ripples through the gambling industry, a significant number of unionized workers at Sunset Station Hotel and Casino are reportedly seeking to drop their association with the Culinary Union Local 226. Out of almost 600 workers associated with the labour union, more than half are attempting to relinquish ties, putting another dent in union’s influence.

This revelation was made by the property’s owner, Station Casinos, on Monday. An ongoing initiative to compile signatures for a decertification petition is currently underway, upon the successful conclusion of which, the company has vowed to cease its recognition of the Culinary Union as the workers’ collective bargaining representative. This isn’t the first time, however, that the company’s employees have sought to cut ties with the union. In 2020, a similar petition was submitted by a majority of workers at Station Casinos’ two other properties: Boulder Station and Palace Station.

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“These efforts mirror that of our team members at Boulder Station and Palace Station, workers at Sunset Station have moreover voiced their intent. We respect their wishes and appreciate the confidence that our team members have placed in us”, confirms Scott Kreeger, president of Red Rock Resorts, Station’s parent company.

Yet, this move hasn’t come without its share of controversy. In retaliation to Station Casinos’ announcement, the Culinary Union immediately launched allegations of union busting against the company. Ted Pappageorge, the Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer, firmly stated that the union would be lodging charges of unfair labor practices against the withdrawal and pledged to persist in persuading the company to negotiate a union contract in good faith.

Historically speaking, the property did not always harbour anti-union sentiments. Indeed, back in 2019, an overwhelming 83%, a staggering 437 out of the then-staff, voted to join the Culinary Union. Pappageorge asserted, “That was the only official vote the property ever had, that too, sanctioned by the federal government. As evident from the landslide majority, workers were clearly in favor of unionizing.”

However, any official action to decertify the union can’t be taken without a decertification election. So despite these disputes, an election is yet to be held. Only on its successful conclusion, can the employees drop the union affiliation formally. In order to hold such an election, a minimum of 30% of union members must sign either cards or a petition, requesting the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct the vote.

In an added twist, the Culinary Union alleged that the withdrawal of union representation at Palace Station and Boulder Station in 2020 was executed illegitimately. As it stands, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 together represent approximately 60,000 workers, performing a myriad of roles from guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, to porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, and laundry and kitchen workers in Las Vegas and Reno. This latest development with Station Casinos is sure to have a significant impact on the future of the labor movement in this sector. The case continues.