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Thousands of hotel and casino workers in Las Vegas may walk off the job next month.
About 25,000 casino workers voted in favour of a strike, called by their union. Reports indicate that 99% of the union members voted in favour.
Contract agreements for to the workers expire at midnight on May 31. Thus far, negotiations for a new contract have not reached any positive conclusion, leaving new contracts for the 50,000 unionised workers in balance. Union officials are reportedly calling on the casino-operating companies to increase wages, ensure job security, and strengthen protections against sexual harassment.
While the vote gives the union negotiating committee the authority to call a strike any time after June 1, it does not necessarily mean it will occur. It is contingent upon the unions not reaching an agreement on these contracts before their expiration.
What’s at stake
The contracts, covering approximately 50,000 workers, include everyone from bartenders and room attendants to servers, cooks, and kitchen workers, according to NBC News. Properties that could be affected include the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, El Cortez, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, The D, and Stratosphere.
Should the strike go forward, it could be massively disruptive for the city. The last time casino workers in Las Vegas went on strike, in 1984, the city lost millions in tourism revenue and gambling income. That strike lasted 67 days.
How Vegas has changed
Since the 1984 strike, the gaming industry has grown, meaning that more workers are needed and a strike could have an even greater impact, suggests Ruben Garcia, a professor of law at the University of Las Vegas. What’s more, the newly-formed Las Vegas hockey team, the Golden Knights, will be playing in the Stanley Cup final at home in early June, and is likely to draw thousands of fans.
The union’s vote to authorise a strike is likely to give it additional bargaining power in its ongoing contract negotiations. In 2002, the union similarly voted for a strike, but was able to reach a deal and avoid the strike. Casino-operating companies have just over a week to get to a similar outcome this time around.
Source: European Gaming Industry News