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Las Vegas hotel workers union and MGM agree to tentative contract after deal with Caesars

The union had threatened to begin a strike in the pre-dawn hours Friday at properties along the Strip if negotiations failed

Las Vegas vintage downtown
Fremont St, downtown Las Vegas (Nevada).Walter Bibikow (getty)

The Las Vegas hotel workers union reached a deal with MGM Resorts International, the largest employer on the Las Vegas Strip, on the heels of its breakthrough agreement with Caesars Entertainment.

The Culinary Workers Union announced the tentative 5-year agreement Thursday that it said covers about 25,000 workers at the Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, New York-New York and Park MGM. The union said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the agreement followed nearly 20 hours of negotiating. MGM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The union had threatened to begin a strike in the pre-dawn hours Friday at properties along the Strip if negotiations failed. Experts said that move would have been catastrophic for the Las Vegas Strip.

The casino company’s CEO Bill Hornbuckle had said Wednesday in an earnings call at the same time negotiations were taking place in a casino ballroom that he was confident a “historic” agreement would come together before that time.

“We know from listening to our employees that they are looking for a pay increase to combat inflation, among other concerns,” Hornbuckle said. “This deal, when announced, will do just that.”

A walkout still could happen on a much smaller scale if the union and Wynn Resorts don’t reach a deal by 5 a.m. Friday for 5,000 workers at two properties. But experts say that is unlikely because agreements already have been reached with casino giants Caesars and MGM Resorts.

“Historically, this is pretty much how it always goes: As soon as one company reaches a deal, the others just fall right in line,” said Bill Werner, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose research includes hospitality law and labor relations.

But, he said, “I would say this is as close as we’ve come in a long time to an actual strike.” The union is scheduled to negotiate Thursday with Wynn Resorts.

Since April, the union has been fighting for new five-year contracts for its members who work at 18 properties owned or operated by MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts.

The union caught a break at dawn Wednesday when it reached a tentative deal with Caesars that covers 10,000 workers at the company’s flagship Caesars Palace, as well as Flamingo, Harrah’s, Horseshoe, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Cromwell and Linq.

The pact with Caesars came after 20 hours of bargaining that began Tuesday and stretched into Wednesday morning.

Caesars said in a statement that the agreement “recognizes the integral contributions our Team Members have made to the success we have seen in Las Vegas over the last few years” with meaningful wage increases and opportunities for growth tied to plans to bring more union jobs to the Strip.

Outside Caesars Palace on Wednesday, visitor Joshua Guray told The Associated Press he came in on a morning flight from Los Angeles and had planned to be in Las Vegas for less than 24 hours.

The only item on his itinerary was a dinner reservation with a friend at one of his favorite restaurants — Bacchanal, the luxury buffet at Caesars Palace.

Guray said he didn’t know that tens of thousands of hotel workers were in the middle of contract negotiations before he planned his trip. He said if a strike had coincided with his travel plans, he would have ditched his dinner reservations rather than cross a picket line.

“I try to stand in solidarity with other workers,” he said. “Life can be hard out there, so I understand what they’re fighting for.” Las Vegas is preparing to host hundreds of thousands of people for next week’s Formula 1 debut on the Strip.

A strike would be the latest in a series of high-profile actions nationwide in what has been a big year for labor unions. That includes walkouts in Hollywood, UPS’ contentious negotiations that threatened to disrupt the nation’s supply chain, and the ongoing hotel workers strike at Detroit’s three casinos, including MGM Grand Detroit.

The hospitality workers have said they would strike for as long as it takes to get fair contracts — from the housekeepers and utility porters who work behind the scenes to keep the Strip’s mega-resorts humming, to the bartenders and cocktail servers who provide the customer service that has helped make Las Vegas famous.

“I am willing to go on strike because I have a 10-year-old daughter who comes to negotiations with me, and she is going to inherit all of this,” said Tiffany Thomas, a guest room attendant at Mandalay Bay. “I refuse to sit back and watch what we’ve built crumble. I want my daughter to look at me and know I fought for a better future.”

The union has said it is seeking historic pay raises, better benefits and improved working conditions. Workers have also said they want better job security amid advancements in technology that already have eliminated some positions, as well as stronger security protections, including more safety buttons on casino floors.

Members currently receive health insurance and earn about $26 hourly, including benefits, union spokesperson Bethany Khan said. The union hasn’t revealed what it has been seeking in pay raises because, Khan said, “we do not negotiate in public.”

Khan said any deal reached before Friday would have to be approved by the union’s rank and file. After that, she said, terms of the contracts would be made public.

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