Meeting planners organizing an event in Las Vegas next month may be in for a surprise as casino employees, including bartenders, housekeepers, food servers and cooks, anticipate a strike that could be very costly to major Las Vegas resorts and casinos located on the Strip.
Last week, approximately 25,000 Las Vegas casino employees voted by a 99 percent margin to authorize a strike that would go into affect on June 1 if negotiations between major Las Vegas resorts and casinos and UNITE HERE’s Culinary and Bartenders Unions don’t reach a resolution.
At midnight on June 1, about 50,000 union members’ contracts are set to expire at properties owned by MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Penn National, Golden Entertainment and Boyd Gaming. Approximately 24,000 MGM workers and 12,000 Caesars workers are part of this year’s contract negotiations. If those workers go on strike, a report released today by UNITE HERE Gaming Research, the union’s research arm, estimated that a one-month strike could cost MGM and Caesars—the two largest employers on the Strip—more than $300 million.
One of the biggest details under negotiation this week is salary. While the unions are asking for average increases of 4 percent per year, the hotel companies have made a counter offer of 2.7 percent average annual increases over five years. Additional outstanding issues between the employers and union workers include technology, hotel housekeeping workload study, union security in case of property ownership change and workplace safety.
The workplace safety issue coincides with a recent study conducted by UNITE HERE’s Culinary and Bartender Unions of more than 10,000 Las Vegas casino workers. Approximately 59 percent of cocktail servers and 27 percent of hotel housekeepers reporting they had been sexually harassed by guests, managers or others while on the job, while an estimated 72 percent of cocktail servers and 53 percent of hotel housekeepers reported a guest had done something to make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Last week, MGM and Caesars released statements to the Associated Press, stating that they believe a resolution can be met. The last major strike initiated by UNITE HERE took place in Atlantic City in 2004, and it lasted 34 days, with the union winning.