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Headed for Las Vegas? You May Need a Hot Plate

Cooks, servers, and hospitality workers may strike for first time in 30 years
By Janet Cromley,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 6:27 PM CDT
The Culinary Union in Las Vegas represents 50,000 bartenders, servers, cooks, and housekeepers at nearly three dozen resorts.   (Getty/Welcomia)

(Newser) – Stanley Cup fans headed for Las Vegas might want to bring along some box lunches and extra sheets. The Culinary Union, which is the largest labor union in Las Vegas, has voted to strike as early as June 1 if major resorts fail to agree on a new five-year contract. Their current contract is set to expire May 31, reports CNN. The union represents 50,000 bartenders, servers, cooks, and housekeepers at nearly three dozen resorts. MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment operate more than half of the properties that would be affected by a strike, reports the Las Vegas Sun. The union is asking for higher wages, worker protections against the growing reliance on technology at resorts, and stronger protections against sexual harassment. Hotel and food workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, one union official told the Washington Post.

They file three times more harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission than employees in higher-paying fields, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. “We want casinos to enforce zero tolerance of harassment by guests and high-rollers and VIP clientele,” says one union communications official. The last Culinary Union strike in Las Vegas occurred in 1984 when about 15,000 workers walked off their jobs. It lasted two months and cost an estimated $75 million in wages and benefits. The outcome of strike negotiations is of particular interest to Las Vegas-bound fans of the fledgling Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights are slated to play in the Stanley Cup Finals in early June—quite an accomplishment for a team in its first year, notes the Sun. (Read more Las Vegas stories.)

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