Despite deals, Las Vegas Strip still faces a crippling strike

Las Vegas has stared down all sorts of disasters over the past few years.

The covid pandemic literally shut down the city while a number of other health scares have spooked tourists. Even as Las Vegas reopened after the covid-related shutdown, it was not business as usual for quite some time.

Health checks and masks were required while gaming tables were covered in plexiglass dividers and social-distancing rules were enforced. Flareups of various variants caused events like CES 2022 to run with many people and companies choosing not to attend.

Related: Las Vegas Strip adopts a controversial new law

Even in the post-covid world, RSV, bedbugs and various other health scares loomed over the Las Vegas Strip. For the past year, however, those concerns may have been there, but business has returned to 2019 levels.

That’s good news for the city, and it left a looming strike by Culinary Local 226 as the biggest potential disaster facing Las Vegas. On the positive side, the union reached a deal with Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get Free Report, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts last November.

The agreement was reached just days before the inaugural Las Vegas Formula 1 race, an event that gave the union significant negotiating power.

Now, with three massive events on the Las Vegas calendar, the union has yet to reach a deal with 21 resort casinos located on the Las Vegas Strip, off-Strip and downtown.

That puts the city in a perilous position just a few days before this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with the Super Bowl and March Madness looming.

A strike during a major event could cripple Las Vegas.

Image source: Shutterstock

Las Vegas vulnerable to a big-event strike  

During a major event like CES or the Super Bowl, Las Vegas essentially sells out. The core Strip properties owned by MGM  (MGM) – Get Free Report, Caesars and Wynn generally sell their rooms at higher prices, which pushes some visitors to stay off-Strip or downtown in the Fremont Street area.

CES runs buses from Fremont Street to the Las Vegas Convention Center, and if those resort casinos weren’t operating or were limited in operation by a strike, that could devastate the city in a very important period. 

Culinary Local 226 officials have made clear that a strike, as soon as next week, is on the table. That timing would disrupt CES.

On its website the union notes that it represents guest-room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders and laundry and kitchen workers.

“We think we’re going to have strikes; it’s unfortunate. If we do, it would actually mean more locations under strike than the three big employers.” Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Pappageorge told the paper that the talks focus on wages and benefits but also address daily room cleanings, protections against job-replacing technology, and reductions in workloads.

Vice President Harris visits union HQ

Pappageorge’s remarks followed a Jan. 3 visit to the union by Vice President Kamala Harris. The union leader thanked the Biden administration for its support during its contract fight.

“With President Biden and Vice President Harris in office, workers that know we’ve got backup and political leadership that values working families, and that’s just it’s a big deal for us. It gives us hope and strength,” said Pappageorge. We have won historic contracts for 40,000 workers, but we aren’t done fighting yet.”

The union leader made clear that it was not backing down when it comes to the remaining workers who lack a contact.

“We will be setting strike deadlines very soon for nearly 8,000 hospitality workers so that they and their families aren’t left behind from the economic recovery companies are enjoying,” he added. 

“Companies are well and workers must win our fair share — we will be fighting very hard to win the best contract ever so that one job is enough,”

Events like CES, the Super Bowl and March Madness give the union leverage as even a relatively small number of properties shut down could cause huge problems. 

Those events essentially use every room in the city, and striking workers would likely cause more people to stay away then simply the ones booked at the affected properties. 

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