Las Vegas Strip faces shutdown during F1 race and Super Bowl

Las Vegas Culinary Union workers keep the Las Vegas Strip properties owned by Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts  (WYNN) – Get Free Report running. 

The union’s 53,000 members do everything from customer-facing jobs like waiters and bartenders to behind-the-scenes workers including the people who clean hotel rooms.

The union has been negotiating with every major player on the Las Vegas Strip as well as the biggest downtown Las Vegas names. So far, the union and the three largest employers on the Strip, MGM Resorts (MGM) – Get Free Report, Caesars and Wynn Resorts, have gone through multiple rounds of negotiation with no deal being reached.

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The union has some pretty hefty demands, but it may also have the ability to pull them off. Over two voting sessions on Sept. 26, union members voted overwhelmingly — 95% — to authorize a strike. 

In the most recent negotiations, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 proposed new five-year contracts to MGM Resorts, Caesars (CZR) – Get Free Report, and Wynn. In theory, a deal with those three would pave the way for agreements with all the other properties. 

The asks are not small. The union wants “the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the history of the Culinary Union,” according to its website.

It’s also asking for “reducing workload and steep housekeeping room quotas, mandating daily room cleaning, and establishing the right for guest room attendants to securely work in set areas.” The union also wants enhanced safety precautions for all its workers, among other demands.

The strike authorization does not mean that a strike is imminent, but it gives the union a powerful weapon with a number of major events coming: Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and February’s Super Bowl. 

Essentially, union members giving their bosses the authority to strike makes the resort casino operators take their concerns more seriously. A strike could cripple the city and if it happened during a major event, it would cost Caesars, MGM, Wynn and others tens, maybe hundreds, of millions.

It could also undermine the goodwill Las Vegas has built up with the sports world. A strike is a last resort for the union because ultimately it wants a healthy Las Vegas and Las Vegas Strip to employ its members.

Should a strike be called, it would start at MGM Resorts, Caesars and Wynn, where contracts for about 40,000 union members have already expired, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Many hotels no longer offer daily room cleaning.

Image source: Shutterstock

Room cleaning a key issue in Las Vegas Strip labor battle     

During the covid pandemic, the Nevada state legislature mandated that hotel rooms be cleaned every day. That law has since been repealed, and one of the key issues between the union and many (but not all) of the Las Vegas resort casino operators is whether daily cleaning should be mandated.

The union says that when rooms are not cleaned daily, cleaning them when guests check out takes a lot longer. That makes the workload unbalanced and difficult to manage.

“Daily room cleaning is a safety and workload issue,” said longtime Bellagio room attendant Evangelina Alaniz. “When it’s been three or four days since I’ve been assigned to clean a room, I’m never sure what I’m going to find behind that door. I worry that there could be a body, a totally trashed room, or a stash of guns like what was in the hotel room on Oct. 1.”

The strike authorization means the union could strike at any time and for any length of time.

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