Las Vegas unions begin high-stakes negotiations with casino giants amid strike authorization

Las Vegas unions begin high-stakes negotiations with casino giants amid strike authorization
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Unions representing approximately 53,000 Las Vegas workers commenced crucial negotiation sessions with hotel and casino operators on Tuesday, following a September vote authorizing a potential city-wide strike.

The culinary workers union and bartenders union represent employees across various properties in the city, including those managed byMGM Resorts InternationalCaesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts. The negotiations aim to secure a new five-year contract that enhances wages and benefits as Las Vegas experiences a rebound in tourism after pandemic-induced visitor declines, Reuters reported.

"The companies have an opportunity to do the right thing and step up and get a contract done, but if not, there could be a strike any time after that. Any time after October 6th, there could be a strike," Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the culinary union, was quoted as saying in the report. 

The union has called for the major resorts to share their record profits with workers. 
Nevada's casino industry reported its second consecutive monthly increase in gaming revenue for August. According to the Gaming Control Board, state-wide gaming revenue reached $1.209 billion in August, representing a less than 1% increase, or approximately $788,000, compared to the same period last year.

The overall total was still a record for the month of August. On the Las Vegas Strip, gaming revenue saw about a 1% increase, reaching nearly $666.8 million. Las Vegas welcomed over 3.3 million visitors in August, a 4% increase compared to the previous year. Convention attendance also saw significant growth, rising by over 64%.

As negotiations continue, the Culinary Union is maintaining a "wait-and-see" stance. As per Reuters, the unions met with MGM Resorts on Tuesday and are scheduled to meet with Caesars on Wednesday and Wynn on Friday. Pappageorge revealed that the unions have proposed the most substantial wage increases in their history, along with reduced workloads and room quotas for housekeepers, improved safety protections for workers, and other demands.

Negotiations have been ongoing since April, with limited progress made. The five-year union contracts with MGM, Caesars, Wynn, and smaller operators expired in May 2023,with an extension until September 15, according to the union. In September, approximately 95% of hospitality workers voted to authorize a strike across 22 properties on the Las Vegas Strip.

A spokesperson said the unions have notyet set a strike deadline. In recent years, the culinary and bartender unions, along with the casino and hotel companies, have managed to avert such measures.

“The casino operators stated in our meetings that negotiation processes are about where they thought they’d be at this time with expectations to reach an agreement in October," Truist equity analyst Barry Jonassaid in a note, as reported by Reuters.

MGM has indicated that every 1% increase in wages would result in approximately $10 million in additional wage costs, according to Jonas, an estimate that suggests wage increases could have an annual financial impact of $40 to $60 million for Caesars and double that amount for MGM.

MGM employs approximately 22,000 union-represented workers, while Caesars employs 10,000, according to available data.