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Culinary Union to picket on Strip over Cosmopolitan negotiations


Steve Marcus

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is shown at sunset from the roof of Planet Hollywood on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 | 1:56 p.m.

For the first time in a decade, members of the Culinary Union are planning to picket on the Las Vegas Strip, as contract negotiations remain at a standstill with the Cosmopolitan.

Union officials say the pickets planned for Thursday come after 18 months of negotiations with resort owner Deutsche Bank to establish a contract for workers. Negotiations have stalled on issues including wages, health care costs and job security. The Cosmopolitan is one of the few casinos on the Strip where employees are working without a contract.

"What workers believe is that if smaller places like the Riviera and Tropicana can pay workers decent wages and health care like other bigger properties on the Strip, there's no reason why the Cosmopolitan should be the exception," said Yvanna Cancela, spokeswoman for the union. "The workers are asking for same standards that have been established on the Strip over the past decade."

The pickets are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Cosmopolitan is the only major casino in Las Vegas in negotiations to establish a contract with Culinary 226, union officials said. A majority of Cosmopolitan service employees signed cards in 2010 saying they wished to have union representation.

"We understand that it is the union's right to picket," said Amy Rossetti, Cosmopolitan vice president of public relations. "The Cosmopolitan has been negotiating in good faith and will continue to do so."

C.J. Harry, 40, a bartender at the Henry at the Cosmopolitan, said many minor parts of a contract have been agreed upon, but major issues remain unresolved.

"I came here from a union job, so I know the difference," said Harry, who has bartended in Las Vegas for 12 years and joined the Cosmopolitan when it opened two years ago. "I continue to work there in hopes we can get a contract. It's a good place to work. We just want to have conditions that are equal to everywhere else on the Strip."

Employees have agreed not to ask for pay increases for several years but want terms for issues such as seniority.

Also, under most union contracts, the resorts pay health care costs. At the Cosmopolitan, employees share those costs.

"My opinion is they are negotiating, but it's going much slower than most parties have anticipated," Harry said. "Tomorrow we're going to go out in front of the Cosmopolitan and show them we're ready to have a contract."

It is the first time the union has held pickets on the Strip since 2003, during negotiations with the former Aladdin, now Planet Hollywood.

The Culinary Union represents employees including food and beverage, house keeping and other service staff.

The only large casinos on or near the Strip where the Culinary Union does not represent employees are the Quad, the Palazzo and Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Palms. Workers at those resorts have not asked to join the union.

The Culinary Union also does not represent workers at most properties off the Strip. For years, the union has battled Station Casinos over organizing employees. The biggest dispute has been over how to ascertain whether employees want to organize. Station wants its workers to hold an election by secret ballot, while the union prefers a card check, as was done at the Cosmopolitan.

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  1. Can't wait for the unions to go away, there killing america. If you are that unhappy with your job go work someplace else!

  2. "if smaller places like the Riviera and Tropicana can pay"

    How many business reports have we seen telling us that both of those properties are losing many and have for years?

    Bad examples they are using when you are talking about properties that lose millions each year.

  3. Hostess was loosing money as well but the executives boosted their salaries up 80% with $1.75 million dollars bonuses to the top. During bankruptcy hearings, the court gave Hostess the OK to award the $1.75 million.

    When the executives know the organization is headed down, they cash in with awards and bonuses while expecting the employees to take further salary cuts. Eliminating useless overpaid management is the key to further economic success.

  4. The people as a whole; all of us, you me and our neighbors; we need to put a stop to these abusive unions.

    Unions stifle economic growth and hold companies hostage. The contracts they force on the companies are almost always ridiculous. I have bar tender friends on the strip that make $18 an hour, plus benefits and walk with over $500 a night in tips, ridiculous. We have all read about the cushy lifestyle and benefits packages with our police and fire unions; you should see the lavish houses and cars these "public sector service" people have, it just makes you sick. Union officials and die hard union members act unreasonable and entitled when it comes to what they think they deserve. Unions steal from companies in the private sector and they steal from all of us in the public sector. For too long, getting a public sector job or landing a union job in general has been like hitting the jackpot. Being a firefighter, police officer or union bartender should not be paramount to winning the lottery. Things have gotten out of hand.

    There is nothing wrong with working for a living. There are enough federal laws to protect workers; it is time we rein these thugs in.

  5. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  6. Hire non union workers. Let 'em walk out forever.

  7. Culinary would do a service to focus on employable / trainable VETERANS instead of illegals.

  8. More than 12% of employees in Nevada are Illegal invaders while our Veterans are homeless (unemployed) and on the streets. And you wonder why our economy doesn't come out of this stagnation?

  9. Roslenda - Thank you for your concern for our Vets. The VA has programs to help the homeless vet, but sometimes they just don't want the help. Since you can't force them to take the assistance, you are going to see vets on the street.

  10. QUOTE FROM ABOVE: "...We just want to have conditions that are equal to everywhere else on the Strip."

    I guess it is no longer desirable to just have a job. It seems the union workers want to set the wages too - as they see necessary.

    So, Socialism has hit the Strip, too; not just in Washington, DC. Now, all workers are supposed to make the same money no matter WHERE they work, and no matter what the DIFFERENCES ARE are between Strip hotel/casinos (i.e., employers).

    Why do Union employees always seem to be the "takers" in businesses. Why do these employees (note: Union employees are NOT the owners; they put no money into the business, and they take no financial risks to make the business flourish - SO THEY CAN PAY EMOPLOYEES).

    It seems that Cosmopolitian Union workers just feel they can DICTATE what the WAGE LEVELS should be. I guess just having a job - especially in this economy - is NOT "FAIR."

    And it used to be that Union emplyees foughtfor NEGOTIATED increased benefits and wages. NOW, it seems that they are DICTATING Egalitarian benefits and wages as they see fit.

    The former Union mantra has risen again: "Look for the UNION label." A slogan that Unions used to put on clothing and signs to promote the idea that people should ONLY BUY FROM UNION brands or shops. This mantra sought to exclude competition, and fostered discrimination, against other businesses. So much for "FAIR."

    Well, it has been obvious that the Karl Marx philosophy is still alive and well - in Unions, and in Washington, DC politics. I guess Union people really believe that EDICT by Karl Mrx (in cloaked references by Obama during his campaign) which stated: "WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE."

    Now you see can a little bit of the end-game.

  11. OMG...

    You anti-unionista's are wack!
    The ignorance...
    'how DARE they!'
    Well, kids, if hard-working Americans HADN'T fought for worker's rights over time, you would be too broke, tired & afraid to open your big, gaping yap today.
    Corporate apologists here @ the Sun have waaaay to much 'free time'...