Las Vegas avoids hospitality workers strike

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Las Vegas avoids hospitality workers strike
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Hospitality workers in Las Vegas reached a tentative labor deal with Wynn Resorts hours before a strike deadline, their unions said on Friday, ending the threat of a labor stoppage against casino operators that could have crippled tourism in the city.

The new five-year agreement covers 5,000 employees at two Wynn Resorts properties and follows similar deals for 35,500 workers with rivals Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International earlier this week.

U.S. President Joe Biden hailed the deals on Friday and congratulated the unions, he said in a statement: “This agreement will help give all workers the quality of life they deserve.”

The deal with Wynn and the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions marks the end of negotiations between the unions and the largest casino operators in the city. It follows a series of successful labor actions in the automotive and entertainment industries, as workers sought wage hikes at a time when companies have enjoyed strong sales.

Meanwhile, the unions said negotiations are ongoing with 24 smaller casinos and resorts, including properties owned or operated by Hilton Worldwide and Hilton Grand Vacations. About 18,000 workers including cooks, bartenders and housekeepers are working under a labor contract extension. The extension has been in place since June 1 and can be terminated with a seven-day notice.

The largest wage increase in the history of the unions

Financial details of the Wynn agreement were not immediately available, but the Las Vegas unions, considered among the most powerful in the United States, said they had secured the largest wage increases ever negotiated in their history.

“This union’s gains in wage increases will certainly address the heightening income inequality that has been rising not only within this particular industry but also in the national service economy,” said Daniel Cornfield, a Vanderbilt University sociology professor.

The agreement reduces housekeeping room quotas, mandates daily room cleanings and extends recall rights for workers, providing them with the option to return to their jobs in the event of another pandemic or economic crisis for up to three years.

“We are very pleased that we were able to reach an agreement,” Wynn said in a statement, adding that it was looking forward to a ratification of its tentative agreement soon.

Mandatory daily room cleanings create job security for workers and improve the quality of the service for the consumer, said Cornfield. “It’s a win-win achievement.”

Casino resort operators in Las Vegas have been earning record profits from a steady post-pandemic recovery.

Visits to the city in September were 4% lower than in the same period in 2019, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room rates, however, have surged more than 47%.

The city will be hosting the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix this month and the Super Bowl, which is scheduled to take place in February. ()