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Culinary Union members vote to strike against 10 Las Vegas Downtown casinos

Culinary members picketing outside the Cosmopolitan resort last year in Vegas ; recently, the union voted to authorize strikes against 10 downtown Las Vegas casinos
Culinary members picketing outside the Cosmopolitan resort last year in Vegas ; recently, the union voted to authorize strikes against 10 downtown Las Vegas casinos
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Culinary and Bartenders Union members recently (March 27,2014) voted to authorize a strike against 10 Downtown Las Vegas Casinos. Over 99% of the approximately 5000 service workers voted for strike authorization. This action follows a notice given by the union five weeks ago to end contract extension negotiations for contracts that ended in June 2013. Negotiations have been ongoing for about a year and a half.

Though pension plans and guaranteed work weeks are concerns among union members, the primary conflict has centered around payment of health insurance premiums. Prior to implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act ('Obamacare'), the casino companies covered 100% of health care costs for union service workers. Obamacare fees and mandates have increased expenses for the union's health insurance fund, which does not qualify for federal subsidies as do for-profit insurance companies according to the new law. Union members want the casinos to cover the added costs, but the casinos don't want to foot the bill.

The 10 Downtown casinos named in the strike authorization are Binion's, Fremont, Four Queens, El Cortez, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club, Las Vegas Plaza, Main Street Station, and The D Las Vegas. The strike also involves restaurant workers at the Margaritaville restaurant on the Strip and Brady Laundry Services that provide uniform laundry services for casino workers.

The Union can stage picket lines beginning next month, where members can sign up for strike benefits if a strike actually occurs. The last Las Vegas culinary worker strike was in 1991 at the old Frontier casino on the Strip.

The Culinary and Bartenders Union recently concluded negotiations for new five-year contracts covering more than 37,000 workers at Las Vegas Strip casinos.