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January 29, 2015

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Downtown casino to Culinary workers: Union protest Saturday will cut into your tips


Steve Marcus

A view looking toward the Fremont Street Experience canopy from the Neonopolis mall in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

A massive protest slated Saturday in downtown Las Vegas stems, in part, from demands by the Culinary Union for a 15-cent increase to workers' health and pension funds.

The Sun obtained a letter in which one downtown casino urges its employees to question Local 226 about the tactic of staging a major protest because it could hurt their own pocketbooks by scaring tip-paying customers away.

“Maybe you should ask the Union to compensate the tipped employees for their losses,” the letter says.

The casino says an increase in pension and health contributions is “a lot of money to properties such as ours where we pinch pennies every day to maintain our business.”

A casino executive, who did not want to be named, said the union action, which could draw 7,000 to 11,000 protesters, is expected to be “orderly and peaceful.”

“They aren’t supposed to block entrances and casinos will have water stations out for them,” he said.

Though just 3,500 culinary members work in downtown casinos, the union has set up an “Adopt-A-Hotel Picket Action” plan, obtained by the Sun. The plan calls for union volunteers from Strip casinos to protest in shifts in front of the nine downtown casinos throughout the day.

The Sun also obtained a flier from the Culinary Union to its members outlining some demands made by downtown casinos. The flier is dated May 25. Among other things, the flier says casinos were asking to freeze wages and benefits for at least three years.

Downtown business operators are upset by protest plans because they coincide with the long-planned “Rediscover Downtown Day,” which is intended to draw people from throughout Southern Nevada to sample various downtown businesses. The protest will also take place during the annual Las Vegas Heart Walk fundraiser by the American Heart Association. About 4,000 people are expected to take part in the Heart Walk.

Most businesses on East Fremont Street are offering specials throughout the day.

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  1. Just wondering if bobthebuilder is a non-union construction worker. As far as casinos go, the only reason they give their non-union employees raises is to maintain the same scale of salary as what is negotiated for union members by their unions. I always feel pity for the union haters who have no idea how much the unions have contributed to the great standards of living received by casino employees as a result of tough union negotiators. Maybe they are jealous that they are missing out. Oh wait. This is a right to work state so even if you aren't a union member you still get the same benefits and wages that were only obtained by negotiators from the union. As for the protest, will it have any lasting negativity for downtown Las Vegas? Absolutely not. It will only hurt the purse strings of those casinos for that day and will soon be forgotten. Meanwhile, since the majority of downtown tourism is of people who are staying downtown, they will most likely just go about their business and even this day won't make their greasy palms come up short.

  2. Out of control unions like Culinary do nothing but hurt businesses AND their employees.