Las Vegas casino workers gear up for picket lines in front of MGM, Caesars properties this Thursday

Thousands of Las Vegas workers plan to picket in front of MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment casinos for the first time in nearly two decades this Thursday, as their unions contemplate a possible strike. Through this move, the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions, representing Las Vegas hospitality workers, are stepping up their pressure to negotiate a new five-year contract with the hotel and gaming giants.

Two-hour “informational picket lines” are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday in front of Park MGM, Paris Las Vegas and The Linq Hotel. Later, the pickets will extend to the sidewalks in front of Harrah’s, Flamingo, Horseshoe Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort, and New York-New York.

The unions pointed out that these pickets do not represent a work stoppage, and that no deadline has yet been set for a possible strike. The workers are planning to join the picket lines before or after their shifts and are recommending that customers avoid crossing the lines as a gesture of solidarity.

Negotiations are underway between the union and three major Las Vegas employers: MGM, Caesars and Wynn Resorts. While many believed that the authorization of a potential strike last month was enough to stimulate an agreement, the results of last week’s negotiations were labeled “very disappointing” by the union’s secretary-treasurer, Ted Pappageorge.

“We’re not really seeing anything that’s sufficient to try to avert a strike and that’s unfortunate,” Pappageorge told reporters. A new round of talks had not yet been scheduled as of Monday afternoon.

The impasse in negotiations revolves around several issues, including higher wages, protections against technologies that could threaten jobs, reduced cleaning quotas and increased workplace safety. 

Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union

With contracts expiring at the three main employers last month and a strike authorization vote in late September in which 95% of members supported a possible strike, some 40,000 workers with expired contracts are prepared to go on strike if necessary.

MGM previously said that a 1% increase in wages could add about $10 million to the companies’ labor costs. Barry Jonas, an analyst at Truist, indicated that these increases could cost Caesars around $40 million to $60 million a year and double that for MGM, based on the number of employees.

As Las Vegas prepares for major events, including a Formula 1 race in November, the city’s tourism industry remains its backbone. While August saw a decrease of around 7% in visitors compared to the same month in 2019, before the pandemic, room rates have increased significantly by close to 30%.