Las Vegas, known for its bustling strip and vibrant nightlife, witnessed a significant turn of events in labor negotiations as the Culinary Workers Union reached a series of historic labor deals with major casino operators, averting what could have been the largest strike in U.S. hospitality industry history.
Las Vegas Casinos Reach Tentative Labor Agreements
At the brink of a potential large-scale labor dispute, the Culinary Workers Union has successfully negotiated tentative labor deals with three of the city’s largest casino operators: Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International, and Caesars Entertainment. These deals come after intense round-the-clock negotiations, just ahead of a major Formula 1 race expected to draw a significant number of tourists to the city.
Details of the Tentative Agreements
- Historic wage increases with Wynn Resorts securing a deal for 5,000 employees.
- MGM and Caesars Entertainment reached similar agreements affecting over 35,000 workers.
- Union’s chief negotiator heralded the agreements as “life-changing.”
- Additional perks include workload reductions, mandated daily room cleaning, and increased safety measures.
- Extended technology use and prolonged recall rights for layoffs.
The culmination of seven months of bargaining has resulted in what Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, describes as the “best contract and economic package” in their 88-year history. These agreements are subject to ratification by the union members, but they represent a significant improvement in the working conditions and compensation for Las Vegas’s hospitality workforce.
Economic Impact on Workers
With rents in Las Vegas soaring by nearly 40% since before the pandemic, according to Zillow, the average Culinary union member’s pay of $26 an hour has been stretched thin. The union’s recent success in negotiations is poised to ease this burden with substantial raises and benefits.
Recent Uptick in Union Strikes and Wins
2022 has seen a rise in labor activism, with a 56% increase in strikes compared to the previous year. High-profile unions across various sectors, from hospitality to automotive, have been securing significant victories in wage and benefit increases.
Major Union Wins Across America
- SAG-AFTRA ended a nearly four-month strike with a new agreement.
- The United Auto Workers settled with the ‘Big Three’ automakers for considerable wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments.
- Kaiser Permanente employees secured a 21% raise over four years following a historic healthcare strike.
- The Teamsters’ deal with UPS resulted in a notable wage hike for delivery drivers to $49 an hour.
Despite these gains, some unions are still in the process of negotiating contracts, with strikes affecting industries from healthcare to automotive.
Continued Negotiations and Industry Outlook
While the Culinary Workers Union celebrates its achievements, it continues to negotiate contracts for 18,000 members at smaller hotels and casinos. These ongoing discussions are critical to sustaining the momentum gained by recent labor movements and ensuring long-term benefits for workers in the industry.
Continuing from the significant achievements in labor negotiations, the city of Las Vegas is set to embrace a period of labor peace. The recent agreements reflect a broader trend of union activism and successful collective bargaining efforts that have marked this year as one of substantial progress for labor rights.
Presidential Acknowledgment of Labor Movements
President Joe Biden acknowledged the surge in labor organization during a recent address to auto workers, highlighting the impact of collective bargaining in improving workers’ lives. This sentiment echoes the experiences of union members who have seen direct improvements in their work conditions and livelihoods.
The Culinary Workers Union, which is a prominent organization for Latinx, Black, Asian American Pacific Islander, and immigrant workers, remains at the forefront of these transformations, shaping the future of labor rights in one of America’s most iconic and tourist-heavy cities.
As Las Vegas gears up for an influx of tourists for the F1 Grand Prix, the spirit of cooperation between unions and casino operators suggests a promising outlook for the hospitality industry. With the potential for increased visitor spending and heightened demand for hospitality services, the city can expect a bustling period ahead, bolstered by the recent labor peace.