Thousands of Las Vegas Strip hotel workers could go on strike this month

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Tens of thousands of Las Vegas hotel workers on Thursday set a deadline for a widespread strike, threatening major disruptions to the city's economic backbone that could coincide with the inaugural Formula 1 races on the Strip later this month. .

He Culinary Workers Union said about 35,000 members whose contracts expired earlier this year are ready and willing to walk off the job at 18 casinos if deals are not reached by Nov. 10 with casino giants MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts. .

That's five days before the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend, which is expected to draw thousands of people to the Strip, begins with an opening ceremony.

At a news conference, Ted Pappageorge, the union's secretary-treasurer and chief contract negotiator, urged tourists and Formula 1 ticket holders to support workers if they go on strike by not coming to Las Vegas or crossing the borders. pickets.

“We will be reaching out to ask customers to take their business elsewhere,” he said.

Formula 1 did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Pappageorge said the union and its members hope that a strike will not happen, but that "workers are prepared, united and ready to strike if necessary."

Nevada's largest union, with about 60,000 members statewide, has not gone on strike in decades.

A strike would be the latest in a series of high-profile labor protests across the country (since strikes in hollywood to the controversial UPS negotiations that They threatened to disturb the country's supply chain) and would follow hospitality workers who walked off the job last month at Detroit's three casinos, including the MGM Grand Detroit.

In Las Vegas, the 18 properties that could be affected by a strike are Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, New York-New York, Park MGM, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah's, Horseshoe, Paris Las Vegas . , Planet Hollywood, The Cromwell, The Linq and Wynn and Encore Resorts.

The union's deadline comes after another unsuccessful round of negotiations with the three casino companies. A spokesperson for Wynn Resorts declined to comment. Caesars and MGM Resorts did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Negotiations have been underway since April over issues such as wages and working conditions.

Currently, members receive health insurance and earn about $26 an hour, including benefits, said union spokeswoman Bethany Khan. She declined to say how much the union is seeking in pay increases because, she said, “we don't negotiate in public,” but the union has said it is asking for “the largest pay increases ever negotiated” in its history.

Hospitality workers, from servers and bartenders to kitchen employees and housekeepers, have also said they want greater job security amid technological advances, as well as stronger safety protections, including more safety buttons.

"We didn't feel safe on the casino floor," veteran Bellagio waitress Leslie Lilla told The Associated Press. “We need greater security. We need emergency buttons on our service bars. “We want to be protected, just like our guests.”

The union said it had been patient with the casino companies during seven months of negotiations that sparked large-scale demonstrations on the Strip, including one in October that halted rush-hour traffic and ended with the arrest of 58 hotel workers who HE They sat in the street in what they described at the time as a show of force ahead of any possible strike.

"This is our moment. This is the moment of the union movement,” Lilla said. “We know that we cannot be a society where there are only upper classes and lower classes. There has to be a middle point. “Unions create that middle class.”

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