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Culinary union makes more progress in contract talks, but strike deadline looms on Feb. 2

A large group of union workers sit in a circle in the middle of the street on Las Vegas Boulevard. All of them are wearing red shirts, and the circle takes up about one lane of traffic. A large crowd is on the sidewalks waving signs supporting the union.
Yvette Fernandez
A group of union workers stage a protest and block a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard in October 2023, Though the culinary union has made progress in signing deals with several casinos — including the "Big 3" of Wynn Resorts, MGM International, and Caesars Entertainment — there are still 18 properties they're negotiating with.

The Culinary Union continues to seek new contracts with Las Vegas resort casinos and is preparing for a potential strike as fans begin arriving for the Super Bowl on Feb. 11.

On Tuesday, the union announced they reached a tentative agreement for a five-year contract with Strat for 700 employees. On Wednesday, the union reached a contract for 500 more workers at Hilton Grand Vacation, and on Jan. 20, the union announced a deal with the Westgate.

This came after Culinary Union members picketed at the Sahara and the Strat on Jan. 19.

Golden Entertainment, representing the Strat, said in a statement: “We are disappointed the Union chose to picket the Strat, after two successful meetings. However, we will continue working toward a final agreement.”

But on the picket line, union spokesperson Ted Papageorge said the contracts expired last summer and employers have had months to move forward.

“Right now we've got multiple negotiations happening every day,” he said. “And every day there's opportunities to make progress.”

In November, the union signed what it called a “historic” five-year contract with the “Big 3” casinos: MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts. Those three casinos collectively employ 30,000 culinary and bartender union workers.

But 16 other resorts and casinos still have not signed new contracts. The union has set a strike deadline for them on Feb. 2 – nine days before the Super Bowl comes to Las Vegas.

Papageorge said the contract terms are the same with all employers. He said the resorts and casinos are making record profits on major events like the Formula One race last November and the upcoming Super Bowl. He also said workers are critical to the industry every week – not just during big events.

“They can’t have these incredible events without workers and they forget that sometimes,” Papageorge said.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.