Culinary Union workers consider strike deadline at downtown Las Vegas, independent Strip casinos

Representatives from Culinary Local 226 are engaged in ongoing negotiations with 21 hotel casinos in the Las Vegas area in pursuit of new five-year contracts encompassing over 7,000 employees.

These negotiations concern hospitality workers at 21 downtown Las Vegas and independent Strip hotel-casinos, as well as two additional establishments in Northern Nevada, all of whom have been operating without a contract since their expiration on June 1, as reported by the union.

There are roughly 7,700 members at those 23 properties. Union officials say they could call a strike deadline this month or in February, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“We think we’re going to have strikes, it’s unfortunate,” said Secretary-Treasurer of Culinary 226 Ted Pappageorge, speaking after Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday visited Culinary headquarters in Las Vegas. “If we do, it would actually mean more locations under strike than the three big employers.”

In November, members ratified a deal with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts. The union threatened to strike several days before the Formula One race, putting pressure on operators to finalize the contract agreement. According to Pappageorge, union negotiators meet with employers weekly or daily to work on their respective agreements but not enough progress has been made.

Some of the Southern Nevada hotel-casinos working without a contract include Rio, The Strat, Sahara, Circus Circus, Treasure Island, Westgate, Binion’s, Circa, Plaza, Golden Gate, The D and Four Queens. The union has already reached contract agreements with The Mirage, Tropicana, Four Seasons, and Palms. 

Culinary officials have called the new contracts historic for their significant wage increases, guaranteed lowered workloads, technology protections, and career support. Each full-time, non-tipped employee at those companies will get roughly $3-an-hour raise in the first year, and tipped workers will get a raise of roughly $1.50 hourly, leaders previously said.

Ted Pappageorge

According to Pappageorge, the terms include a 10% wage increase in the first year and a cumulative 32% raise throughout the contract’s duration, resulting in an average wage of $37 per hour. The total compensation for employees across the three companies is projected to reach $2 billion over the next five years.

About 70% of the union’s membership, which is made up of housekeepers, porters, bellmen, servers, bartenders, and kitchen and laundry workers, are considered non-tipped employees.

Pappageorge said wage and benefits are behind the lengthy talks, but other discussion points remain around daily room cleaning, protections from job-replacing technology, and workload reductions. “There’s a lot of work to do to make sure that we corral these companies and get them to the finish line,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a different logistic.”

More talks with employers are scheduled this week and next, the union said.