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Las Vegas Unions and Caesars Strike Deal to Avert Strike

Unions representing hospitality workers in Las Vegas have reached a tentative agreement with one of the city’s three major resort operators, just two days before a strike deadline. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, which are affiliates of UNITE HERE, announced the tentative agreement on a five-year contract with Caesars Entertainment. Contracts for housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and food servers at the three companies and Caesars expired on Sept. 15, after being extended from a June deadline.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Ted Pappageorge, the head of Local 226, said the tentative agreement would provide compensation increases “far above” those in the last five-year contract, which amounted to $4.57 an hour overall in wages, health care and pensions. Members of the union make $26 an hour on average.

The culinary union stated that the deal with Caesars had been reached after 20 straight hours of negotiations and covered 10,000 workers. Those workers will have 10 days to ratify the contract. Caesars said in a statement that the accord would provide “meaningful wage increases that align with our past performance, along with continued opportunities for growth tied to our future plans to bring more union jobs to the Las Vegas Strip.”

The Caesars properties in Las Vegas include Caesars Forum, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Horseshoe, Paris, Planet Hollywood, the Cromwell and the Linq.

The two unions said last week that 35,000 members would walk off the job on Friday at 18 hotels along the Strip owned by Caesars, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts, posing a major threat to the city’s economy. The last major strike of Las Vegas casinos occurred in 1984, when workers walked off the job for more than 60 days.

As Las Vegas prepared for the impact of a strike, crews began to block off roads and erect bleachers near the Strip, which will serve as the course for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, a big international auto race. In early December, the National Finals Rodeo is planned for two weeks. The local unions have been negotiating with the resorts since April over demands that include higher wages, more safety protections and stronger recall rights, a protection that prioritizes rehiring laid-off employees, such as those let go during the pandemic lockdowns or economic downturns.

In September, the union passed a strike authorization vote with 95 percent support. More recently, workers have picketed outside the major hotels, marching under palm trees in 80-degree heat with signs that read, “One Job Should Be Enough,” alluding to low pay.

For years, the culinary union, which represents 60,000 hospitality workers in Nevada, has been a powerful political force, one seen as a critical base for Democratic candidates in the state and nationally. In 2020, the ground operation and door-knocking campaign by union members helped propel Joseph R. Biden Jr. to a narrow victory in the state. Ahead of his re-election campaign next year, President Biden trailed former President Donald J. Trump by 10 percentage points in the state in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll.

During a trip last month, Vice President Kamala Harris visited the culinary union’s headquarters and praised the workers as the “true champions for working people.”

Lynnette Curtis contributed reporting.

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