Another labor deal averts strike at 8 more Vegas casinos

Another labor deal averts strike at 8 more Vegas casinos
Wild Casino

The Culinary union has reached a deal with MGM Resorts International covering 25,400 members, averting a strike at eight casinos that had been set to start Friday.

The deal, announced in a by the union, comes a day after a similar deal was reached with Caesars Entertainment that averted a strike by 10,000 other union members at nine casinos operated by that company.

Both those tentative agreements need to be ratified by rank-and-file members before they can take effect and end the risk of a strike altogether. Negotiations are due to take place Thursday at the remaining company facing a Friday strike, Wynn Resorts, but the threat of the largest hospitality strike in US history has largely ended. The threatened strike would have been due to start at 5 AM local time Friday.

A strike at almost all of the city’s major casinos would have come at a particularly bad time. The city is hosting an F1 Grand Prix that will include a portion of the Strip as a racetrack.Practice runs are scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week, and the race itself is set for Saturday, November 18. There are also concerts and other events scheduled, and by some estimates the weekend is expected to draw about 100,000 visitors to the city.Overall, the city has about 150,000 hotel rooms, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The terms of the deal were not immediately available, but it likely matches the significant immediate raises the union said that it won Wednesday at Caesars, equalling nearly $4.57 an hour in additional money going immediately to a combination of pay and benefits. It said there will be additional raises over the five-year life of the contract.

The likelihood of a deal was signaled Wednesday in the wake of the deal at Caesars. MGM CEO William Hornbuckle told analysts during a conference call Wednesday afternoon that he believed a strike would be averted there as well, saying that he thought a deal would be reached Wednesday.

“We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that averts a strike, gives our Culinary union employees a well-earned boost to pay and benefits and reduces workloads – all while continuing to provide opportunities for growth and advancement,” Hornbuckle said in a joint statement issued early Thursday with the union.

MGM’s eight Las Vegas casinos - theAria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, New York-New York and Park MGM - brought in $6.4 billion in revenue in the first nine months of this year, or more than half of the company’s overall revenue. They produced operating income of $2.3 billion. Both figures are slightly higher than a year earlier, even after MGM sold its Mirage casino in December of 2022.

Ted Pappageorge, the union’s secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator, said Wednesday that the union was ready to strike at MGM if it didn’t match the deal reached earlier that day with Caesars. He praised the MGM deal Thursday, although he would not give details.

“We are proud to say that this is the best contract and economic package we have ever won … in our 88-year history,” said Pappageorge in the joint statement issued with MGM. “Workers have secured significant raises every year for the next five years, preserved our great union health insurance, union pension, and comprehensive union benefits, while gaining historic improvements in housekeeping workload reductions.”

He said workers in Vegas are still suffering from rising prices, especially in rents. Many workers at the casinos work multiple jobs. One of the union’s main bargaining slogans is “one job should be enough.”

In Las Vegas, typical rents spiked nearly 40% from prior to the pandemic, according to Zillow. Typical rent reached a high of $1,861 a month in July of 2022, which was up 38% from $1,351 a month in July 2019.Since that peak, rents in Las Vegas have come down slightly, following national trends, and the typical rent in the city was $1,808 in Septemberof this year. But that’s still 33% higher than rent in September 2019.

“With this new union contract, hospitality workers will be able to provide for their families and thrive in Las Vegas,” said Pappageorge.

The average Culinary union member in Las Vegas gets $26 an hour in both pay and benefits, but the union would not break out how much of that goes to salary and how much goes to benefits such as no-premium health care and a traditional pension plan that pays a monthly benefit to retirees.

Unions have been flexing their muscles this year, taking the number of workers on strike to levels not seen in decades. There have been 348 strikes so far this year, up 56% from the same period of 2021, according to a strike tracker kept by Cornell University’s school of industrial and labor relations.

US unions have been winning some large gains in recent negotiations, sometimes with a strike, sometimes without.

Most recently SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 actors, had been on strike for nearly four months against major studios and streaming services before reaching its own tentative deal Wednesday evening. Terms of that deal were not dislosed, but union President Fran Drescher described it in an Instagram post as a “Billion+ $ Deal! 3X the last contract!”

That deal came in the wake of the United Auto Workers union reaching deals with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis that included guaranteed wages of 25% over life of contract that runs through April of 2028, and a cost-of-living adjustments that could take the pay of most workers up more than 30% when combined with the guaranteed wages.

A coalition of unions at Kaiser Permanente won raises totaling 21% over the four-year deal reached after 75,000 union members there waged the largest health care strike in US history.

And the Teamsters union reached a deal with UPS in July that averted an August 1 strike by more than 340,000 members, which included a minimum of $7.50 in hourly wage hikes during the life of the contract, and raised the pay of a delivery driver there 18%, to $49 an hour. It also eliminated a lower tier of pay for many union members and gave bigger pay hikes to some part-time workers.

But some unions have yet to be able to reach deals on new contracts, including 3,700 members of a coalition of unions — which includes the Teamsters and the UAW — who have been striking three Detroit casinos since October 17. One of those casinos is owned by MGM.

And about 15,000 union members have been waging a series of set-duration on-and-off strikes against 65 hotels in Los Angeles and Orange counties in California since July 4.