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September 30, 2014

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Unions call for June 1 strike at nine downtown casinos

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Tom Donoghue / DonoghuePhotography.com

REO Speedwagon headlines a free NASCAR Weekend Race Jam concert at Fremont Street Experience on Saturday, March 8, 2014, in downtown Las Vegas.

Updated Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | 2:50 p.m.

Union members working without a contract for nearly a year say they’ll strike at nine downtown casinos beginning June 1.

In a news released posted today, the Culinary and Bartenders Unions said its restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, cocktail servers, bartenders and other members would walk off the job at 5 a.m. June 1 and start round-the-clock picketing of the nine downtown casinos where they don’t have a contract.

The targeted casinos are: The D, Four Queens, Binion’s, Fremont, Main Street Station, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, El Cortez and Golden Gate.

A strike would last until a contract settlement is reached with the properties, the unions said.

“For nearly 80 years, our unions have made casino jobs good jobs in Las Vegas,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, leader of the Culinary Union. “Our members downtown deserve to earn a decent living by working hard under a fair contract."

Members authorized a strike in a vote March 27.

Union officials said Monday a majority of the 3,000 union members at the nine casinos along the Fremont Street Experience have signed up for strike benefits and picket line shifts.

The Golden Nugget is the lone downtown casino to have settled on a contract with the unions. Culinary Union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said that five-year contract, ratified by members earlier this month, was retroactive to the previous contract with the Golden Nugget that ended in June 2013.

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 represent over 55,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most casinos on the Strip and in downtown.

The last Culinary strike happened in 1984 and represented the largest in Las Vegas history. More than 17,000 workers protested 32 Strip resorts. Culinary leaders had carved out contracts with owners of 15 properties but couldn't reach an agreement with the others.

The strike ended nine months later when police arrested 900 picketers and six casinos severed their union ties. Though the dissolved relationships cost union members more than $70 million in lost wages and benefits, the Culinary saw the strike as a major victory.

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