Culinary and Bartenders Union members will walk off the job at 5 A.M. on June 1 at several Downtown Las Vegas casinos according to an Associated Press report published earlier today. Round the clock picketing will take place at nine Downtown resorts where union members currently don't operate under a functional labor contract. Union reps indicated the strike will be ongoing until a contract settlement agreement is reached with the involved casinos.
The nine casinos involved in the upcoming strike are Binion's, Main Street Station, Plaza, Fremont, Las Vegas Club, El Cortez, Golden Gate, Four Queens, and The D. The Golden Nugget is the singular downtown casino to have previously settled on a contract with the union earlier this month. The last full-fledged culinary worker strike in Las Vegas occurred in 1991 at the now imploded Frontier Casino on the Strip. Currently, union workers are in ongoing negotiations with the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on the Strip, though the recent sale of that property to new owners will no doubt delay that process.
Union members authorized the strike with a vote on March 27, 2014, when over 99% of more than 3,000 restaurant, hotel, cocktail servers, bartenders, and other service workers at the Downtown resorts voted for the strike initiative. A majority of union members have signed up for strike benefits and picket line shifts.
Contract negotiations between the union and the involved resorts have been ongoing for more than 20 months. Functional contracts expired in June 2013 between the two entities. Though pension plans and guaranteed work weeks are concerns for union workers, the primary conflict has centered around payment of health insurance premiums by the casinos. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Health Care Act ('Obamacare'), the Downtown casinos covered 100% of health care costs for union workers. Fees and mandates associated with the new health care laws have increased expenses for the union's health insurance fund, which does not qualify for federal subsidies. The Downtown casinos have declined to cover those added expenses up to this point in the negotiations.