Following reports of a possible city-wide strike of casino workers in Las Vegas, today the Culinary Union announced it reached an agreement with Caesars Entertainment, one of the major employers in the city. Despite that, the labour union may still call for strike action as contracts at 34 properties in Las Vegas expired and it is yet to negotiate new terms with MGM Resorts International and other casino operators.
Shortly after the collective contracts of around 50,000 workers in Las Vegas expired a few hours ago, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 said on Twitter that a tentative agreement has been reached with Caesars Entertainment. The deal provides new contracts for approximately 12,000 employees at 9 casino resorts on The Strip. It is valid for five years and comes after 99 per cent of workers voted to authorize a strike if the old contracts are not renewed in time. Last week, around 25,000 people, including housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and bellmen, took part in the vote. They and many more have been seeking improved contracts since February.
The newly signed agreement with Caesars may sound promising, but it covers only about a third of all discontented casino and hotel employees in Las Vegas. On Thursday, around 50,000 unionized workers threatened to hit the picket line if their employers do not meet their demands. The prospects of a strike that could cripple the city are still very real, as the union has not agreed on a deal with the second major employer, MGM Resorts International. There are even more properties in Downtown Las Vegas that may be affected if workers walk out of their jobs.
Las Vegas Faces the First Strike in 30 Years
No major labour strikes have happened in Las Vegas in over three decades. The last massive picketing was in 1984 when the closure of casinos and resorts cost the city millions of dollars. Striking workers and casino operators also lost millions of dollars, although no exact estimations can be made. According to Deutsche Bank analysts, negotiations between the union and casinos will continue past Thursday midnight when the current contracts expire. They believe a city-wide strike is highly unlikely.
The Culinary Union, on the other hand, threatens that it would call for strike action should no agreement is reached. It says that a 30-day strike would cost Caesars and MGM Resorts a total of $300 million. This means that every day of the strike, the two major companies could lose $10 million in combined revenues. Of course, the union is in the position to dramatize and magnify the potential risks and costs of a city-wide strike. Moreover, with the newly inked tentative agreement with Caesars Entertainment, all these estimations will need to be reduced significantly.
In addition, other experts believe that the actual cost of a possible labour strike in Las Vegas would be much lower. Since it has not happened in more than 30 years, analysts cannot make any predictions. Currently, the agreement with Caesars covers the workers at 9 resorts, which means that the employees of 25 other properties across the city may decide to hit the picket line. According to David Schwartz of the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, the effects of a massive labour strike may last longer than expected.
Most casino and hotel customers visit the city during their vacations, which means their plans would be interrupted. Also, tens or even hundreds of celebrations, conventions, sports events and shows would be cancelled or postponed. This would affect even more people and businesses over the long term.