Casino employees in Las Vegas are scheduled to vote on September 26 on whether to authorize their unions to strike as last week’s crippling cyberattack continues to haunt MGM Resorts International.
Negotiations on a new five-year contract between casino management and the powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 225, the largest in Nevada, appear to be at a standstill after five months of talks.
The Culinary Workers and Bartenders Union Local 165 — both of which fall under the umbrella of the Culinary Workers Union and represent 53,000 employees — will be allowed to call for a strike if there is support from a majority of the employees who vote.
“These [casino] companies ... their profits, the profit margins, the room rates are through the roof,” Culinary secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge told KTNV Channel 13 in Las Vegas.
“It’s pretty clear to everyone that Las Vegas is on a roll. The problem is that the workers are not being included,” Pappageorge said.
The companies negotiating with the Culinary Workers Union — Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts — did not respond on Monday to requests for comment from Vixio GamblingCompliance.
Collectively, the three companies operate a majority of the major casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Culinary Workers announced on Monday that its workers at those three casinos will continue working under contracts which expired on Friday (September 15).
This means “there is an increased risk of a potential major labor dispute in Las Vegas,” Pappageorge said in a news release.
Meanwhile, MGM Resorts International could be losing up to $8.4m per day because of last week’s cyberattack, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Even more significantly, the cyberattacks that hit MGM and Caesars may have shattered the image of invincibility surrounding security systems in the casino industry.
The threat of a major strike action in Las Vegas appears to reflect escalating tensions between business and organized labor across the United States.
A surge in work stoppages since COVID-19 resulted in the number of striking workers increasing by almost 50 percent last year compared with 2021, according to the U.S. federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As Las Vegas awaits the September 26 vote by culinary workers, unions representing writers and actors in Hollywood continue a strike which began on May 2.
The United Auto Workers, which has more than 391,000 active members, went on strike on Friday.
Workers know they have gained more bargaining power since the pandemic, Harry Holzer, a public policy professor at Georgetown University, told Marketplace, an online newsletter.
“The employers need them more,” Holzer said. “It’s harder to hire replacements.”