Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 | 2:08 p.m.
Culinary Union Local 226 members who work for Caesars Entertainment properties are expected to ratify a contract this evening, union leadership said today.
The vote, the first of three planned over the next two days for the biggest hospitality companies on the Strip, comes less than a week after representatives of Culinary Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract with Caesars, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts – and averted what would have been Culinary’s first Las Vegas strike in more than 20 years.
The last of the tentative agreements, with Wynn, came less than three hours before a strike would have commenced.
Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer and chief negotiator for the union, said Caesars showed leadership by going first.
“Workers were ready to strike and that’s critical,” he said today. “There has to be an understanding that if we don’t get what we need in the contract and the companies aren’t willing to step up, that workers are prepared and organized and the infrastructure in place to strike.”
The results of the Caesars vote should be known by about 9 tonight. A simple majority is needed to ratify the contract. Pappageorge said he saw good feedback today, striking an optimistic tone.
The union achieved all of its goals, including historic wage, pension and health care increases — which Pappageorge has said were important both in light of record resort profits and high costs of living — in negotiations, along with restrictions and new language around the introduction of technology and artificial intelligence into the workplace, job safety, daily room cleaning and more.
Culinary Union has tentatively secured about $2 billion in total compensation for Caesars, MGM and Wynn over the total five-year contract. Every worker will be getting a 10% wage increase in the first year and a total of 32% over the life of the new contract. The wage increases are the largest ever negotiated in the union’s 88-year history.
Pappageorge said the union will go into further detail on the economics on Wednesday, but “I can tell you that the overall money is double than what we got in the last contract. It’s front-loaded significantly in the first year so folks can get relief because of the cost of living in Las Vegas,” he said.
On safety, companies have agreed to track worker complaints on sexual harassment and criminal activity, and to be cooperative with workers on serious issues that could require police involvement. Safety buttons – or panic buttons – will be expanded from housekeepers to front-of-the-house workers.
“All my coworkers, my team members are excited because of the room reductions and also safety buttons,” Leticia Ricardo, a housekeeper at Linq, said today. “That’s very important for me because that way everybody is safe.”
Nevada’s largest union started bargaining with Caesars, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts in April, and had set a Nov. 10 strike deadline after members voted in September to authorize a strike.
Culinary will hold ratification votes for an MGM contract on Tuesday and a Wynn contract on Wednesday.
Twenty-four additional casino-resorts on the Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas are still under a contract extension and remain in active negotiations for a new 5-year union contract.
“Just because we got these first three done doesn’t mean that we won’t see strikes with these other companies, but we hope not,” Pappageorge said.