The Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas, the largest union in Nevada, voted to authorize a strike against major casinos on Tuesday if contract disputes continue.
The union represents more than 60,000 hospitality workers in Las Vegas and is one of Nevada’s strongest political forces. More than 95 percent of workers voted to authorize a strike Tuesday, the union announced.
More than 40,000 members are working without a contract as the union seeks better pay, benefits and working conditions in negotiations with top casino companies including, MGM International, Wynn and Caesars Entertainment.
The union did not set a deadline for a walkout, but a full strike would effectively freeze all activity on the Las Vegas Strip, key to the city’s economy. The union represents nearly all nongaming workers at hotels and casinos, including housekeepers, waitstaff and kitchen staff.
“Today, Culinary and Bartenders Union members have sent the strongest message possible to the casino industry to settle a fair contract as soon as possible,” Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the union, said in a statement. “It’s up to the three largest employers in Las Vegas to step up and do the right thing.”
“If these gaming companies don’t come to an agreement, the workers have spoken and we will be ready to do whatever it takes — up to and including a strike,” he continued. “Workers brought every single one of these companies through the pandemic and into a great recovery, and workers deserve a fair share. Companies are doing extremely well and we are demanding that workers aren’t left behind.”
The union holds separate contracts with each casino company, nearly all of which are scheduled to expire or have already expired this year.
MGM International told The Associated Press the company will continue negotiations and that “both parties are committed to negotiating a contract that is good for everyone.” The Hill has reached out to the other major casinos for comment.
The union last voted to authorize a strike in 2018. Five-year contracts were negotiated with major casinos in the weeks after.
Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Jacky Rosen (D), have backed the union in negotiations. Rosen is up for reelection in 2024.
“Culinary Union workers power Nevada’s economy,” Rosen said Tuesday on X, formerly Twitter. ”I stand with them as they exercise their right to bargain for better wages and a fair contract — because one job should be enough.”
The labor action in Las Vegas comes as labor unions nationwide have mobilized in recent months, with ongoing strikes in Hollywood and Detroit. Labor unions are also enjoying a surge in popularity among the general public.
President Biden, who has called himself the “most pro-union president in American history,” was in Detroit on Tuesday to support the United Auto Workers strike of major automakers. It was the first time a sitting president walked a picket line.