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July 17, 2018

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Culinary Union leads protest at Palms to promote its cause

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Ricardo Torres-Cortez

Supporters of Culinary Local 226 gather in front of the Palms to rally for unionization efforts there, Friday, March 18, 2016.

Culinary Protest at Palms

Supporters of Culinary Local 226 gather in front of the Palms to rally for unionization efforts there, Friday, March 18, 2016. Launch slideshow »

Hundreds of Culinary Union workers lined up on Flamingo Road in front of the Palms Friday evening to demand a “fair process” to unionizing at the resort.

The smiling protesters clad in red marched, danced and shouted in unison.

“If we don’t get no justice, they don’t get no peace,” resonated from megaphones as the workers shouted back.

This was the first Culinary Workers Union 226 picket at the Palms, organizers said. It is seeking a process that lets employees decide on whether to unionize, without interference from resort management.

The workers wrote a letter to Palms President Todd Greenberg in June asking him to direct management to remain neutral in their efforts to unionize, the union said.

Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan said Greenberg denied the request.

That letter was signed by 26 Palms employees, or 3 percent of the roughly 900 employees who would constitute a bargaining unit, Palms spokesman Alex Acuna said last year.

“Palms Casino Resort is proud of our team members and we value our direct relationship with them. Of course, Palms respects the law at all times concerning the right to engage in protected activities including lawful organizing,” spokesman Acuna said in an email statement Friday.

A second petition with signatures, which the union said came from a majority of Palms employees, was delivered in September, again asking for a neutral stance from management and requesting to begin the unionizing process.

The workers have not heard back from the Palms, Khan said. And by “ignoring the request, it’s rejecting (it).”

Employees have been harassed and reprimanded by management over the unionizing petitions, according to the union, and a report was recently filed on behalf of the employees and through the union with the National Labor Relations Board.

The board hasn’t sent back its decision, Khan said.

In January, however, the board decided in favor of Palms worker Juan Sanchez, he said.

The 54-year-old food and beverage employee, who’s been with the Palms for five years, alleged management last year wrote him a warning after he participated in union activities and wore a Culinary Union pin to work.

The board, he said, made the Palms take away the write-up. Sanchez said he loves his job and only wants the company to afford its employees a fair process in deciding on whether to unionize.

The picketing was followed by a rally on an empty parking lot next to the Palms where union members gathered to hear speakers.

In her speech, union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline addressed the Palms.

“They need to know who we are," she said. “We’re the working people in Las Vegas; we built Las Vegas; we made Las Vegas; we make the customers come back to Las Vegas; we make them money every day.”

State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, and other union and faith leaders joined her.

“The big corporations don’t control America," Kihuen said, "the people control America.”

The picket appeared well organized and was peaceful. The half dozen Metro Police officers present guarded the area from a distance.

The Palms did not further comment on Friday.

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