UNITE HERE, a union of workers in the gaming, hotel, and food service industries, leaked a letter from Palms Casino notifying casino employees that food service company Sodexo would be taking over operation of some of the Palms' food outlets "effective November 2, 2015." The union explained on its blog Private Equity Closer Look that "around 30% of the current Palms workforce will be affected by the change, over 220 workers." Workers will be offered severance and could reapply for their jobs with Sodexo.
This includes employees "in the buffet, coffee shop, main kitchen, and bakery," according to the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, a Nevada affiliate of UNITE HERE. The Culinary Union noted that the announcement by the Palms comes just two months after CEO Todd Greenberg refused a petition from workers asking management "to remain neutral and allow [employees] to make their own decisions about unionization."
Local faith leaders have joined with the Culinary Union in calling on TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, the private equity firms that own the Palms, to retain casino workers rather than outsource their jobs. The Palms employees will deliver a second petition to management this week.
Update, 9/11/15: A Palms spokesperson has reached out to clarify details of the company's Sodexo partnership. Of note is the assertion that "Palms team members affected by this change have been offered positions with Sodexo, or positions at other Palms operated venues or generous severance packages based on time spent with the company."
As for unionization, Palms claims management received a petition with only 26 signatures "requesting that the company remain 'neutral' about the issue of union representation," which it estimates to "represent less than 3% of the applicable bargaining unit." The statement concludes on the matter that Palms "respects the law at all times concerning workers' right to conduct lawful organizing activity."
Read the full statement below.
"Palms Casino Resort has partnered with industry leading integrated facilities management and food service operations company Sodexo to run some of its food and beverage outlets including 24 Seven Café, Bistro Buffet, In Room Dining, Team Member Dining Room and associated support departments effective Nov. 2, 2015. Palms team members affected by this change have been offered positions with Sodexo, or positions at other Palms operated venues or generous severance packages based on time spent with the company. Palms looks forward to collaborating with this exceptional culinary brand and expects a superior, quality experience for both our guests and team members.
In addition, to meet the demands of our guests, Palms has added restaurants Lao Sze Chuan, Café 6 and most recently the 'world's largest' Hooters to the property which have resulted in the creation of hundreds of new culinary jobs.
Palms first started discussions with Sodexo in early 2015. The first time Palms management was made aware of any employee interest in organizing through Culinary #226 was months later on June 4. At that time, management was presented with a letter signed by 26 Palms' employees requesting that the company remain 'neutral'about the issue of union representation. Palms estimates that the applicable bargaining unit at Palms would constitute approximately 914 employees and therefore Palms estimates that the 26 signatures represent less than 3% of the applicable bargaining unit. Palms however has no way of knowing the actual number of signatures obtained by Culinary with respect to any applicable bargaining unit at Palms because Palms management does not inquire of its employees as to union organizing activity and respects the law at all times concerning workers' right to conduct lawful organizing activity.
Why did Palms Partner with Sodexo?
- 'Sodexo is one of the leading integrated facilities management and food service companies in the world and its Leisure team is a recognized global leader in high-volume concessions, catering and hospitality management. It was the obvious choice to help lead our efforts in revitalizing our high volume food outlets.'