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November 27, 2021

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Workers picket outside Cosmopolitan over lack of contract

Cosmopolitan Protest

Ron Sylvester

Members of the Culinary 226 Union protest outside the Cosmopolitan on Friday morning, Mar. 1, 2013.

Lines of workers chanted, carried signs and yelled at people trying to walk into the Cosmopolitan on Friday, protesting the property’s lack of a contract with the Las Vegas Culinary Union.

“One, two, three, four, don’t go through that hotel door,” hundreds yelled whenever someone walked toward the door of the Strip resort.

“No contract, no peace,” another group repeated.

Picketers swarmed in front of the casino on Las Vegas Boulevard, on the side off Harmon Avenue and on foot bridges leading to the Aria and Planet Hollywood. The two sides are at odds over health care coverage, seniority, working hours and pension benefits. It marked the second time in 30 days that workers have taken to the streets in front of the Cosmopolitan. The pickets are the first on the Strip in a decade.

Cosmopolitan officials declined comment beyond a statement earlier this week that it was trying to negotiate “fairly and openly” with the union. Union member, however, say talks have stopped over key issues that have already been resolved at other Strip casinos.

“We are not asking for anything more than the rights that people have worked so hard to establish in other hotels,” said Debra Stokke Golden, an in-room dining server at the Cosmopolitan.

One of the main issue is a guaranteed work schedule, so people with full-time positions can’t have their hours cut without a grievance procedure.

“Right now, I’m full-time, but I’m scheduled at 32 hours a week,” said Andy Spicuglia, a master cook for room service at the Cosmopolitan. “They can cut hours and send people home early, and I have to take vacation time to make up for the lost wages. Then when it comes time to take a vacation, I don’t have any hours left.”

The practices impact customer service, union members say.

“They send people home early to save money, and then we get busy and it makes it harder to serve the customer,” Spicuglia said.

The union also says the Cosmopolitan has stopped talks about health care premiums. At other Strip hotels, culinary service employees do not pay premiums out of their paycheck, and payments are managed by the casinos and union trustees. The union also cited disagreements over contributions to pension funds.

Some picket signs were in German, a nod to the Cosmopolitan’s ownership by Deutsche Bank, and union members point out no one from the bank sits at the negotiating table.

Deutsche Bank officials have said they aren’t in the business of managing casinos. In December, the company put the Cosmopolitan in what it called a “non-core operating unit.”

Executives said the purpose was to separate businesses that were outside of its core banking operations to accelerate plans to sell them.

Employees at the Cosmopolitan elected union representation by card check 18 months ago and have yet to reach a contract.

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