LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The strip is better known as a mecca for fun and gamble, but it is also the backdrop for providing wage security to the thousands of people working in the casinos, nightclubs and restaurants. Many of the businesses on the strip are part of a union that represents over 50,000 staff, yet one off strip venue is sending a clear message to residents and unions that it does not want any part.
Station Casinos has risen from its proverbial $4 billion ashes of bankruptcy, dealt with employment fairness and dispute only to be met with mounting union pressure. The argument has been simmering for years with the Culinary Union filing grievances with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Station for unfair labor practices and discrimination against Hispanics that are now being moved to be heard before board members. Station claims this is part of “on-going harassment” by the union in an effort to deter clientele from conducting business at their properties. There have been accusations that the union has contacted businesses and even threatened people who want to hold an event at Station properties that their event would be subject to protest.
In response to all the flack, Station is running an anti-union ad campaign against Culinary Union Local 226. It features members of their staff saying ‘we love our jobs, we need our jobs.’ It portrays the distinct dispute that has been heating up between union boss D. Taylor and the Station’s refusal to unionize its workforce.
Last Thursday culinary members were holding a rally at Red Rock Casino and Resort the same night the property held a fundraiser for Bishop Gorman, the Catholic High School – these stonewall tactics are offensive and are meant to intimidate more than anything else. The union is trying to gain allies to expand its membership to Station workers. There were over 4,000 workers (out of 13,000) from Station who were there to present a petition asking for a fair process to decide whether or not they want to be represented by the union. Clearly people need to have their voices heard, but trying to deter visitors in such a public manner does not bode well for casino’s revenue.
While it is understandable why the union wants Station to join; it strengthens their forces, creates higher pay for union workers, provides health benefits and fair working conditions, it seems the unions methods of action are driving business away. Also non-union jobs at Station and Las Vegas Sands properties provide fair compensation packages for their staff, so they too can attract good employees and offer better pay without having employees pay union dues. It seems that there are people at Station who want the right to unionize be brought to a vote. Others are in support of upper managements decision to not unionize –whether that is from internal or external pressure remains to be seen.
It begs the question why the union would try and lead people away from casinos? The culinary union website voices nothing but support for Station workers that want to unionize, but it doesn’t seem like smart business practice to threaten clients or tell them to cancel their events unless they want several extra hundred protesters in attendance. This is not only bad for Stations revenue, but for Las Vegas economy as well, it sends an intimidating message to any visitor that Vegas unions bully not only other casinos, (that aren’t with them) but also any people that support them as well.
The union sends a bad message to residents or visitors and it remains unclear whether or not this argument will see a resolution. What is certain? That neither side is leaving it up to the people who matter most in the situation– the workers.
Station employees have a right to unionize if they want to and many Station workers have signed a Fair Process Petition that states ‘We demand that Station Casinos Ownership and Management respect our signatures and agree to a fair process for us to decide whether to have union representation without management interference or intimidation.’ A fair private vote from the employees on the Station properties should be the deciding factor in this matter, but that is easier said then done. The amount of conflicting opinions that exist among workers, management, and anti-union ad campaigns exemplifies the disparity between Station and other union members.
If sides don’t settle this disagreement it negatively effects profits for employees, construction companies and any other businesses that are directly tied with the casino or union. Both sides are dishing out heat and neither Taylor, the union or Station seem to be losing steam.