Las Vegas casino, hotel workers set strike deadline after talks stall

By Doyinsola Oladipo

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Some 35,000 Las Vegas hospitality workers are ready to walk off the job on Nov. 10 in a strike against casino and resort operators MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts if they do not have a labor contract by then, their unions said on Thursday.

The Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions have been negotiating for about seven months, and 95% of their members voted at the end of September to authorize a citywide strike.

The strike would be the first for the unions since 1991 and mirrors activity in the entertainment and auto industries where employees are seeking better compensation and benefits to deal with the higher cost of living and a tight labor market, and comes as companies report record profits.

The Las Vegas unions, considered among the most powerful in the country, are demanding higher wages, stronger protections against new technology that may threaten jobs, a reduction in steep quotas for housekeepers and improved safety for workers.

The union said it has some agreements in place with the casinos. “Economically, the companies have made some movement but we are millions of dollars apart,” Ted Pappageorge, Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer told reporters on a call.

MGM and Caesars did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Wynn declined to comment on the strike deadline.

“When we reach an agreement on the contract, it’s going to be the largest increase that our employees have seen in the four decades since we started interacting with the Culinary Union,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Thomas Reeg told investors on an earnings call on Tuesday.

The city is gearing up for major events in November including the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix which is expected to bring more than 100,000 tourists to the city.

Reeg said he could not say whether a new contract was “going to happen next week, a couple of weeks from now, or a month from now. But we are in dialogue constantly with the union and have further meetings this week.”

The union said no additional big table negotiations are currently scheduled with the three casino operators, including Caesars.

(Reporting by Doyinsola Oladipo in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)