Just 24 hours before the culinary and bartenders union in Las Vegas was set to strike, the labor group representing 60,000 hospitality workers and powerhouse employer MGM Resorts International have reached an agreement. One day after the union wrapped negotiations with Caesars Entertainment for the company’s roughly 10,000 represented employees, MGM has reached a tentative agreement with the union for a five-year contract covering its more than 25,000 employees.
In a statement, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 calls the deal “historic.” The five-year contract’s protections and requirements include the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the union’s 88-year history, workload reductions for guest room attendants, mandated daily room cleaning, increased safety protections, expanded technology contract language, and the right for unionized workers to support non-union restaurant workers seeking to unionize through picketing, leafletting, and other actions.
The new contract covers eight Las Vegas MGM properties: Aria Resort and Casino, Bellagio Hotel & Casino, Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Luxor Hotel, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, MGM Grand, New York-New York Hotel & Casino and Park MGM Las Vegas. The contract still must go through a ratification process in which all members of the union will vote to either accept the contract or reject it and re-enter negotiations, potentially with a new strike deadline.
“After seven months of negotiations, we are proud to say that this is the best contract and economic package we have ever won in our 88-year history,” said Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the culinary union. Bill Hornbuckle, the president and CEO of MGM Resorts International also issued a statement, saying, “We’re pleased to have reached a tentative agreement that averts a strike, gives our culinary union employees a well-earned boost to pay and benefits and reduces workloads — all while continuing to provide opportunities for growth and advancement.”
The culinary and bartenders unions have stated that they will not strike at MGM properties or Caesars properties. On Thursday, November 9, they are scheduled to make a final push in bargaining with Wynn Resorts. Seven months of tense negotiations culminated this week as the strike deadline loomed just days ahead of the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, an event expected to draw 120,000 people and bring in $1.3 billion to the city. In an effort to stave off a strike of 35,000 on-Strip employees during the big weekend, corporate leaders and union organizers staged final-hours negotiations.
In the midst of negotiations with MGM on Wednesday, November 9, union representatives took a short break to hold a press conference, in which Pappageorge stated that the tentative agreement with Caesars accomplished the union’s big three priorities: securing financial packages of wages, health care, and pension plans that increased substantially from the previous five-year contract; agreements for processes of introducing AI and robotics into the workplace; and securing daily room cleanings. He stated that he expected the MGM contract to follow suit. Union representatives have not yet shared details regarding the terms of the tentative agreement with MGM.
During the press conference, Pappageorge sported a blue shirt, declaring that the union stands in solidarity with unionized hospitality workers at the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit, who have been actively striking since October 17. He stated that he hoped a deal with the company in Las Vegas would inspire a resolution for workers in Michigan.
UNION STRONG: @mgmgranddetroit workers won't stop until their demands for a fair contract are met. Stand in solidarity with Detroit casino workers! #OneJobShouldBeEnough @hollywoodgreektown @motorcitycasino pic.twitter.com/UlVkDd4Q5L— Culinary Union (@Culinary226) November 9, 2023
The agreement means sparing employers from a historic strike, one which Pappageorge emphasized that the union did not want to enact. The strike would hit hard at the city’s economic backbone and massively hinder operations with Nevada’s three largest gaming employers. Some employers had already begun seeking threadbare contingency plans — MGM Resorts had directed management employees to obtain alcohol management cards, a statewide requirement for serving alcohol, the Nevada Current reported.
The unions represent tens of thousands of bartenders, cooks, cocktail and food servers, guest room attendants, porters, bellmen, laundry, and kitchen workers on the Las Vegas Strip. It remains to be seen if Wynn Resorts will reach an agreement with the union for employees at its two properties, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort, before the 5 a.m. dealing on Friday, November 10.