We are used to reading about all the fun and games taking place in the neon capital of the Nevada Desert, but apparently all is not well in Sin City. The Las Vegas Strip is more crowded than usual as thousands of the city’s industry workers hit the street and began picketing in front of some of the world’s biggest casinos. Why? Because they are working without contracts.
I’m a man of the people and I hope the workers get what they want. With that said, the current situation in Las Vegas is just another example why playing online is the smarter move.
The People Have Spoken
The Culinary Workers Union is one of the most powerful unions in the country and represents 60,000 workers across Nevada. As many as 53,000 of them are based in Las Vegas and the reason for the latest uproar is the ongoing negotiations with casino and hotel employers.
As of September 15th, around 40,000 workers are working under an expired contract. This has led to union members voting to authorize a strike which could impact as many as 22 of the big casinos along The Strip. As many as 95% of the union members voted to authorize a citywide strike.
What Are They Asking For?
What they are seeking is a new 5-year contract with improved wages and benefits as casino operators post record profits. On the other side of the table are MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Encore Resorts. These are the three largest private employers in Las Vegas.
It’s not the first time reaching a new deal has been a challenge but during prior negotiations, threatening to strike was enough to agree on the terms. This time however, the talks haven’t resulted in anything and negotiations have been slow.
“We’re not really seeing anything that’s sufficient to try to avert a strike and that’s unfortunate,” Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, told reporters.
Not Officially On Strike… Yet
Despite making their presence and situation known on The Strip, the union is not officially on strike yet. Instead, the picketing is being used to put extra pressure on the casinos to meet their demands and sign a new deal.
From the union’s side, a new 5-year contract would include a pay increase, reduced workload for housekeeping staff, expanded safety measures, healthcare as well as job security in the event of another pandemic or economic crisis.
A Las Vegas Nightmare
Should the lack of negotiations result in a strike, it would be bad. It would mean that bartenders, cooks, cocktail and food servers, guest attendants, porters, bellmen, laundry attendants as well as kitchen workers all across the state stopped working.
For a city like Las Vegas that lives and breathes tourism, I think it would be a nightmare.
Famous Hotels in the Line of Fire
Just to give you an idea of where the demonstrations are taking place, you will see the disgruntled workers outside Paris Las Vegas, Park MGM Las Vegas, New York New York and Flamingo among others.
Once in a Blue Moon
If you think this type of picketing happens in Las Vegas all the time, you would be wrong. As a matter of fact, this is the first time in almost 20 years. The workers are standing strong and united, all wearing red t-shirts and chanting their demands while hoisting signs to support their cause.
Massive Events Coming Up
The next 6 months are huge for Las Vegas so the timing isn’t great. Some of the biggest sporting events in the world are coming to town and if you don’t believe me, let me give you an idea of what’s on the menu.
More Than a Billion Dollars in Revenue
On November 19th, Formula 1 is coming to Las Vegas for the first time in history. We all know the magnitude of these races and can you imagine Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton flying by the water show at the Bellagio?
The F1 event alone is predicted to bring more than 100,000 tourists to Las Vegas and surpass a billion dollars in revenue. It will be a spectacular event for the fans as well as for those who love sports betting.
Welcome to the Super Bowl
Then, when all the New Year’s festivities and craziness is over, boom – it’s time for the Super Bowl XXIV in February. I’m pretty sure the casinos want their staff to be back in full force by then.
Big Expenses for Hotels But Also Higher Prices
Since it is Las Vegas we are talking about, the amount of money involved is a lot bigger than in most other cities. For example, MGM has said that every 1% increase in wages would add about $10 million to labor costs, according to Truist analyst Barry Jonas.
The estimated wage increases could cost Caesars $40 million to $60 million a year and double that for MGM based on their employee count.
More interesting data is the fact that in the month of August this year, Vegas had 7% less visitors than they did in August 2019, which is before the pandemic hit. The room rates on the other hand have seen a 30% increase. Ouch!
Stop Eating and Don’t Come to Vegas
There’s no doubt that the union means business. To make sure the casinos are aware of how serious they are, the union even issued a statement that urges members of the public, customers, community allies, elected officials, and convention planners to not cross an active picket line.
Instead, they ask them to stand in solidarity with the workers by not eating, meeting, or staying in a casino resort during an active picket line. Driving a hard bargain? Classic Las Vegas.
I will leave you with this… sit back, relax and continue having fun playing online!