Las Vegas Sun

June 3, 2015

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Downtown casino to Culinary workers: Union protest Saturday will cut into your tips

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Steve Marcus

A view looking toward the Fremont Street Experience canopy from the Neonopolis mall in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

A massive protest slated Saturday in downtown Las Vegas stems, in part, from demands by the Culinary Union for a 15-cent increase to workers' health and pension funds.

The Sun obtained a letter in which one downtown casino urges its employees to question Local 226 about the tactic of staging a major protest because it could hurt their own pocketbooks by scaring tip-paying customers away.

“Maybe you should ask the Union to compensate the tipped employees for their losses,” the letter says.

The casino says an increase in pension and health contributions is “a lot of money to properties such as ours where we pinch pennies every day to maintain our business.”

A casino executive, who did not want to be named, said the union action, which could draw 7,000 to 11,000 protesters, is expected to be “orderly and peaceful.”

“They aren’t supposed to block entrances and casinos will have water stations out for them,” he said.

Though just 3,500 culinary members work in downtown casinos, the union has set up an “Adopt-A-Hotel Picket Action” plan, obtained by the Sun. The plan calls for union volunteers from Strip casinos to protest in shifts in front of the nine downtown casinos throughout the day.

The Sun also obtained a flier from the Culinary Union to its members outlining some demands made by downtown casinos. The flier is dated May 25. Among other things, the flier says casinos were asking to freeze wages and benefits for at least three years.

Downtown business operators are upset by protest plans because they coincide with the long-planned “Rediscover Downtown Day,” which is intended to draw people from throughout Southern Nevada to sample various downtown businesses. The protest will also take place during the annual Las Vegas Heart Walk fundraiser by the American Heart Association. About 4,000 people are expected to take part in the Heart Walk.

Most businesses on East Fremont Street are offering specials throughout the day.

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