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March 3, 2015

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Union supporters arrested at protest of Station Casinos


Leila Navidi

The crowd prepares to march from Culinary Union Local 226 headquarters to Palace Station as a statement against Station Casinos’ treatment of Latino workers on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

Culinary Union March

A woman is taken into custody by Metro Police after a nonviolent sit-in on Teddy Drive outside of Palace Station following a march by Culinary Union Local 226 members from their headquarters to Palace Station as a statement against Station Casinos' treatment of Latino workers on Thursday, March 24, 2011. Launch slideshow »

On a side street near Palace Station, 100 Culinary Union supporters were arrested Thursday night for blocking a roadway to show their support for the organization’s attempt to unionize workers at Station Casinos.

An organized team of Metro Police officers were ready with zip ties and three police buses to arrest supporters who sat in the middle of Teddy Drive. The protesters were arrested on counts of pedestrians blocking a roadway — a misdemeanor — issued citations and released shortly thereafter.

Close to 1,000 Culinary Union Local 226 members and supporters marched two miles from the union headquarters on Commerce Street to Palace Station to protest what they claim is Station Casinos’ mistreatment of Latino workers.

The demonstration was the largest to date in the campaign to unionize workers at the company, union representatives said.

For nearly three hours, Station Casino workers and Culinary Union members marched with signs, chanting “Station hates Latinos” and “Union bustings got to go.” Some protesters wore shirts with the faces of former Station Casino workers who they say were fired for showing their support for the union.

The Culinary Union has been attempting to unionize 13,000 workers at Station Casinos’ 18 properties in the Las Vegas Valley for almost 15 years. Union representatives said the organization’s public campaign to organize workers at the properties began in February 2010.

Trucks carrying the company’s “We Love Locals” ads circled the Culinary Union headquarters before the march and banners with the slogan greeted protesters when they reached Palace Station.

“These signs are up because it means we are winning and Station is worried,” D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer for Culinary Local 226, told the crowd.

Among those who protested Thursday was Olvidio Aquino, a former cook at Palace Station who worked at the property for 22 years. He said he was fired shortly after he started wearing his union button to work but was told it was because he made a mistake in a recipe.

“They fired me after I put my union button on,” Aquino said. “I never had a problem, but as soon as I put my button on and started fighting for my rights, I was fired.”

Aquino said he was marching Thursday for all of his former coworkers who still work at Station Casino properties. He now works as an organizer for the Culinary Union.

Another former Station Casinos worker demonstrating on Thursday was Omar Mendoza, who worked at the Feast Buffet at Sunset Station as a server for 14 years. He also said he believes he was fired for showing his support for the union.

After 14 years of no discipline, Mendoza said, he was told he was being terminated for leaving a tray on a table.

“It’s torn my life apart,” said Mendoza, who now also works as an organizer for the union. “You want to stand up for yourself, but they just stomp on you and crush you.”

Station Casinos is being investigated by U.S. National Labor Relations Board because of unfair labor practice complaints filed by the Culinary Union. The union says more than 80 percent of the charges against the company involve Latino workers.

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson called Thursday’s protest another media stunt by the union, but said no disciplinary action would be taken against employees who chose to march.

The Culinary Union held a similar demonstration last month in which 22 supporters were arrested for blocking an entrance near Palace Station.

“We recognize our team members’ rights to be represented by a union if that’s what they choose, but the union is disingenuous and blatantly lies about what’s going on behind the scenes,” Nelson said. “We are not an anti-union company. We are a pro-employee company, and we’ve always prided ourselves on being fair to our employees.”

Maria Olivas, a server at the buffet at Boulder Station, chose to participate in the march to show her support for fellow Latino workers. She was wearing her union button Thursday but said she has been told by management at Boulder Station not to wear it at work.

“I think the union can give us protection.” Olivas said. “I want better benefits and to have insurance and retirement and a raise.”

Olivas said when her children were sick a few weeks ago, she couldn’t take them to the doctor because she doesn’t have health insurance as a part-time employee at Station Casinos. She hopes the union can fix that.

Despite her complaints, Olivas said, she has never considered going to work for another company.

“I want to stay there because I want all the workers to have equal rights. There are people who have been there longer than I have and they don’t have rights,” Olivas said. “Plus, I love my job.”

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  1. Olivas said. "Plus, I love my job."

    That should say it all right there in this economy. There are so many things to pick on in this story, but the simple fact is anyone who has a job should be happy to have that much and be treating both locals and tourists like gold.

    Live to fight another day.

  2. Here is an event when people stand up for what they believe in, a union. Standing up for what you believe in is a good thing. It is the American way.
    It is a shame that even today, some people start the argument that unions protect lazy people, not true, unions defend the process and the contract. Unions look to to get additional work for the members. More work, more members, better contracts.
    Second, as to the immigration status of the people at the rally, I need to tell you, I am sure the employer, as required by law, does immigration I-9 checks.
    Two cheap shots, by angry people.
    Congrats to D. Taylor and the folks at the rally!
    We will talk about this today on KLAV 1230 AM between 10 and 11am today on The Union Edge Talk Radio Show.
    In Solidarity,

  3. "It is a shame that even today, some people start the argument that unions protect lazy people, not true, unions defend the process and the contract. Unions look to get additional work for the members. More work, more members, better contracts."

    Unions do not offer nor do they produce anything positive for the employer and they have added enormous costs to the employers and consumers dealing with the lazy work force the unions dispatch. The employer is forced to hire personal that aren't qualified and it takes many new hires to get one single qualified worker to work and they're paid for this.

    As to the illegal immigrants, the unions love the illegal immigrants and for those who are using falsified or stolen identification cards and social security numbers, where do you think all the money goes that the unions and the government suck from the their paychecks that is paid by the employer? Surly this money isn't given back to the employer or given to the employee; remember they're illegal and they have no legal right to receive the money. How do you think the union bosses and big wigs suck off their own system and pay enormous amounts to their liberal politician re-election bids? This isn't about fairness or equality anymore with the unions; it's all about the money the union leaders are sucking from the workers and it enables them to give more to their political campaigns and unlimited spending habits.

    Keep it up Stations, bust the unions and do what you know is right to stay alive. Unions of yesterday are gone forever and have developed a system that has broken America. When the unions go back to their founding roots and support American workers and provide a qualified workforce for employers to draw from, they'll serve a useful and functional purpose, until then, they're worthless.

    PS: look at the picture, how many Americans do you see in the picture? Would love to see Border Patrol there in the photo, they'd be patting them on the back and say welcome to America, land of the free and suck more from the system.

  4. Unions have a lot of similarities to cults.

  5. Mr. Showalter,

    First off you don't care about these workers. You are doing nothing more then trying to drum up someone to listen to your no budget AM talk show.

    The union in this town has never got anyone more work or even a job for that matter. Private employers provide jobs and some of them happen to belong to the Union.

    Station Casinos all these years has not been union because the real employees of the company do not want a lower standard of living by joining the local union. They already receive better pay and benefits then the Union shops do. Why take a cut in pay and have to pay the gangsters for that privilege? Even in the Union houses the "part time" do not receive health insurance in most cases so "Olivas" is talking out her butt here.

    You don't even have to be a Stations defender, just look at it in black and white with the facts and you will see why the Union has not be able to take over their house.

    There are 1000's if UNION workers out of work from the strip. What is their UNION doing for them now?

  6. I am upset by the fact how much the race card is being played into this. All of the protesters in the pictures are latinos I could not see a single non hispanic. And from what I read the majority of them are not even employees. Their signs are misleading "union busting has to go" the station casinos are not busting the union from them they are just reluctant to enter into a contract with the union sort of like if you don't want to be in a HOA don't buy a house in a HOA well station casinos does not want to be a union shop. "Station hates Latinos" a look at the ethnic background would prove or disprove this. When I go to sunset station to eat I see a lot of Hispanics employed there if station hates Latino's this would not be the case.
    Now I'm looking at the examples they are stating of why they need a union Olvidio Aquino states he was fired for wearing a union button but station says it was because he made a mistake in a recipe. Now if he screwed up a recipe it could make the food unpleasant and drive away customers or possibly introduce a food item that can cause harm if you are allergic to it like peanuts this could drive away customers and hurt the business so depending on the severity of the mistake and his employment history could be a just cause for being fired. Now you could put on a union button ands say you were fired because you are a latino union supporter now if he could prove that a white non union supporting employee committed the same mistake and not get fired then he and the union would be right.
    What this is about is the union wants 18000 more dues paying ATMS so they can lobby more lawmakers into anti business laws and extort more money from businesses and union members can work less and get away with more mistakes.
    "Station Casinos is being investigated by U.S. National Labor Relations Board because of unfair labor practice complaints filed by the Culinary Union. The union says more than 80 percent of the charges against the company involve Latino workers." This is a common extortion tactic when a strip casino did not sign a union contract the union complained about construction of a new tower would cause to much traffic and tried to get the permit revoked but when they signed the contract the complaint disappeared.
    Station team members were not kidnaped and forced to work at station they needed money applied got a job offer with certain pay benefits and rules to follow and accepted it now they want more.
    Unions should be required to invest into a company and provide union member benfits from the profits of the stock they purchase and not have to pay dues that way they have an incentive to keep the business profitable and when they complain that they should get more money because the business is making more money that would automatically occur because the vaule and dividends of the stock they own would increase. And they would have better grounds to complain to the management on benefits and pay scales.

  7. can you imagine how borring football would be if it was ran by the culnary union? brett farv would still be starting QB with the green bay packers because he has senority and wouldnt play has hard so we would not get injured and would not be worried about being fired because of job preformance because business in culnary union contracts cant fire you for that.

  8. I'm tired of the Lations are all Illegals and we don't need to pay them a living wage. No, I'm not Latino. I would like to see all politicians support a law fining Employers for hiring Illegals from Anywhere say $ 50,000 per hire. The unfortunate fact is that Democrats believe if they could just make them legal ( as Ronald Reagan did) they would vote for them, and Republicans do not want to punish Corporations - since Most of their money comes from them.

    As to all the Union Haters -Child Labor Laws, 40 Hour Work Week, Overtime Pay, Insurance, etc.. are all part of the labor movement, or do you prefer Company Housing and The Company Store as the have in China?

  9. All the haters had a chance to call our program today, none did. I guess they just want to hate from hidden places.
    In Solidarity,
    The Union Edge Talk Radio Show KLAV 1230
    Weekdays 10-11am

  10. I hope the UN investigates the brutality against the Union People, it is a violation of the human rights treaty.

  11. I didn't read one senario in this article where an employee was treated wrong because they were Latino. Why do they not mention people in general, they only talk about Latinos. Why do they not talk about the white, black, and Asian people? Sounds that they are the ones being racist.

    If a private employer does not want a union, that's their right.

    The Union is using the Lation people as lambs to promote their agenda.

  12. This is for all the Union Basher's who've posted here today. I'v been a management person most of my life. You'd think I'd hate the Union's. Not so! Union's have created the Middle Class, with fair wages and benefits for it's members. Also it has created fair wages and benefits for the non-union. By having unions the Companies that want to get the Union Rules out are paying higher wages and benefits than they otherwise would. There is not an Employer anywhere that will give Benefits to anyone unless thay are forced. The employers first loyalty is to the Owners(Stockholders) and actually it's the only loyalty they have. When the Union's go, so will fair wages and benefits. There isn't a company that gives vacation, sick time, health Ins. etc. out of the goodness of their hearts. When the Unions go so will the Middle-Class.

  13. Actually unions and their members are GREEDY. They have one person working at $42.00 per hour instead of 2 equally skilled people at $21.00 an hour.

    It's the unions and their members who are GREEDY!

    For some reason unions think it's okay for them and their members to make/demand more money, but not management or the owners....of course without which there would be no jobs in the first place.

  14. well here is another thing about the unions I find disturbing. If you are a union member you do NOT have to look for a job to get unemployment I have a freind who has turned down job refreals from Pepole I know that could of been a job for him bbut he joined the culnairy telling me that all he has to do is swipe his union card at therer machine 3 times a week to show he is available for work and when he gets his unemployment funds he does not have to file any job application status or history. I guess its a fair trade to sit back and collect the extended unemployment and just pay the monthly dues and not to bother to look for work and complain they are not extending the lentgh of unemployment benfits any further

  15. The culinary is the most corrupt union in Vegas. You don't see SEIU out here protesting!

  16. Olivas, a part time server at the buffet said:

    "I think the union can give us protection." Olivas said. "I want better benefits and to have insurance and retirement and a raise."
    Olvidio Aquino, a former cook said:

    "They fired me after I put my union button on." "I never had a problem, but as soon as I put my button on and started fighting for my rights, I was fired."
    So part time employees with little or no skill want to force their employer to pay for medical insurance, retirement benefits and a raise, and; a cook who never had a problem is demanding his "rights". Evidently this means the right to threaten his employer, the right to demand the dirty old rich guys pay them more than their worth.

    No worker safety issues, no discrimination issues in hiring, just gimme more, gimme more, gimme more or I'll go on strike. Oh wait, there's no union. Well, we'll organize and join a union and then whenever we want something we'll demand it and if we don't get it we'll go on strike and picket and demonstrate and cause trouble for our employer. In other words... I don't care that you're losing money every quarter, I don't care that you have filed for bankruptcy, I don't care that the money isn't there, I want more anyway. Just pay it to me, I don't care if you go out of business, I don't care if we'll all be out of a job, I want it and you better give it to me. Even if jobs are hard to come by and I'm lucky to have one, I'm going to start trouble and if I get fired and can't feed my family, it's my employers fault. I could have kept my mouth shut, been loyal during tough times when they didn't have to keep me and asked to be rewarded for my loyalty when things get better, but no.

    I want more right now. I want my rights. I want, I want, I want.

    How about wanting your butt down to the unemployment office and tell them you want your rights. Oh wait, you got fired for cause so there is no unemployment insurance. Maybe that job wasn't so bad after all, huh?

  17. I agree brass, Myabe to be fair the casinos should give the workers a raise but also charge them for the cost of the supplies they use.