Las Vegas Culinary Union members approve new contract with MGM and Caesars

Improved pay

Culinary Local 226 members this week overwhelmingly approved new five-year contracts with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International, averting potential strikes. Caesars employees voted 99 percent in favor on Monday, while MGM employees did the same on Tuesday.

Wynn employees are next in line and are expected to vote on Wednesday (the vote had not been conducted or made public at the time of publication).

Hospitality workers fought for better pay, a better work-life balance and protection from potentially job-killing technologies, and it looks like they succeeded.

Union leaders said every worker will receive a whopping 10 percent wage increase retroactive to June 1 in the first year of the agreement. They will receive a total increase of 32 percent over the term of the five-year contract. The union has also negotiated lower workloads for its members.

Technical protection

Much like the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America fought for protections against the use of AI in television and filmmaking, the union wanted assurances against technology that could cause casino companies to cut jobs. The new contract requires companies to give the union and workers six months’ notice before introducing new technologies. The unions also have a say in the selection of prototypes and providers.

The contract doesn’t guarantee that jobs will never be replaced by technology – after all, industries will always evolve – but it does require companies to provide new training opportunities for employees affected by new technologies.

Additionally, workers who are laid off will receive $2,000 in severance pay for each year of employment, as well as six months of health and retirement benefits.

One might assume that Wynn employees will also ratify the new contracts, but that is not a given. In Detroit, MGM Grand workers are still on strike even after their colleagues at Motorcity Casino and Hollywood Casino in Greektown agreed to new contracts.

Even if Wynn workers agree to the contracts, Las Vegas casinos won’t completely eliminate the threat of a strike. Although MGM, Caesars and Wynn cover a lot of casinos and employees, there are still 24 independent casinos on both the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas that have yet to reach an agreement with the culinary union.

Negotiations continue, but union leaders have said strike deadlines could be set by the end of the year for Strip casinos and early 2024 for downtown casinos.

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