A new round of layoffs could be coming to Wynn Las Vegas, according to a letter from the resort to members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. The resort claims that any future layoffs are due to pushback from the union on a special pandemic contract agreed upon. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the culinary union negotiated with union-repped resorts on and off the Strip to keep members working, even if it was just part time, and continue to offer health-care benefits after they were laid off.
Under normal circumstances, all culinary union contracts call for a guaranteed, full-time workweek — eight hours a day, five days a week. Before the pandemic shut down nonessential businesses throughout Nevada in March, the union agreed that casinos could offer flexible schedules — giving some employees part-time schedules — to keep as many people working as possible, as long as resorts agreed to pay six months of health-care insurance if an employee was furloughed or laid off.
The union claims the resort failed to adhere to that contract. In October, Wynn laid off staff members after it closed Encore from Monday through Thursday afternoon, and the union says that 1,000 people lost their jobs and health-care benefits, essentially violating the new contract. Now the union is demanding that Wynn offer full-time schedules to staff, which may force the resort to lay off workers.
In response, Wynn’s letter says that reenacting full-time schedules may force it to start laying off employees by January 11. “Last week, the Union decided to take action against the Company and require that we return to strict union rules that force us to schedule full-time employees for 40 hours. We told the Union that would result in fewer people working, forcing many employees into layoff status,” the letter says.
From March until June 4, the state mandated that casinos and other nonessential businesses close to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Wynn paid its employees throughout the closure, at a cost of nearly $250 million.
As the pandemic continued, the culinary union and resorts met to renegotiate these contracts with the goal of keeping people employed, even if only part time.
The culinary union has 60,000 members statewide, about 5,000 of whom work at Wynn. In total, the union has seen nearly half of its members across Nevada either furloughed or laid off entirely.
At the end of 2019, Wynn Resorts employed 30,200 people in Las Vegas, Massachusetts, and Macao, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, with nearly 16,400 employees based in the United States.
The union says resorts owned by Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, along with the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Waldorf-Astoria, and Four Seasons, have already agreed to allow flexible work hours in order to reduce layoffs and have consented to pay for an additional four months of health-care benefits, providing unionized staff coverage through March 2021.
The negotiations have not yet reached a conclusion and will continue.