Lopsided win for union workers in Las Vegas

In a lopsided vote, 78 percent of the workers at Stations Casino’s Green Valley Ranch in the suburbs of Las Vegas voted to join the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165, both are affiliates of UNITE HERE.

The large margin of victory is notable, said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom about the status of the labor movement.

The union victory, said Taylor, “proves that the media narrative that labor is dying is untrue, but that working people can win against all odds when they organize together.”

The union win is the third recent victory for pro-union workers at Stations Casino properties in the Las Vegas area.

Taylor also said that the union victory at Green Valley Ranch was notable because it took place in a so-called right-to-work state where the state “rigs the laws against workers to take away their power.”

The roots of the Green Valley Ranch victory can be traced back to 2010 when hundreds Stations Casino workers from all over Las Vegas came together to form a union organizing committee.

Stations Casino is owned by Red Rock Resorts, a publicly traded company controlled by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The Fertitta brothers took exception with their workers’ desire for a voice on the job and fought the organizing drive every step of the way.

Among other things, they ran television ads in 2012 warning workers not to join the union.

They also hired a union avoidance company, which conducted an ongoing anti-union campaign at work.

But union supporters fought back with their own spirited campaign, and in September 2016 workers at Boulder Station, a hotel and casino located about 11 miles east of the famous Las Vegas Strip, voted to join UNITE HERE by a vote of 355 to 177.

Desperate to stave off further union victories at their properties, the Fertitta brothers announced that they would lower health insurance premiums for all of Stations non-union workers; however union workers, they said, would continue to pay the same higher premiums.

Two months later when another union vote took place at Palace Station, another Station hotel and casino located a few miles away from the Strip, the union narrowly lost by four votes.

UNITE HERE blamed the loss on Stations’ decision to punish its newly unionized Boulder workers with higher health care premiumS and filed charges with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB ruled that Stations acted illegally by punishing workers for their pro-union vote, and in March reached an agreement with the company requiring it to recognize the union at both its Boulder and Palace properties.

The next union vote at a Stations’ property took place on November 8 and 9 at Green Valley Ranch, a luxury boutique casino resort located in Henderson, Nevada about 16  miles southeast of Las Vegas.

The union won by a vote of 564 to 166.

Workers at Green Valley Ranch said that they voted for the union because they wanted the same wages and union benefits as workers at union hotels and casinos on the Strip and in downtown Las Vegas.

“We voted ‘YES’ to join the Culinary Union because we deserve fair wages and good benefits,” said Gladis Sosa de Funes, a guest room attendant at Green Valley Ranch. “Everyone knows the Culinary Health Plan is the best health insurance in Las Vegas, and we want our families to have it.”

Michael Wagner, a bartender at Green Valley Ranch since 2001, said that the organizing campaign to win a union was long and hard but it was worth it.

“I’m happy to have been able to help organize my coworkers and I felt so proud to vote ‘YES’ for the union!” said Wagner. “I look forward to joining together with other Station Casinos workers in negotiations with the company so we can have a fair union contract soon.”

The win at Green Valley Ranch leaves seven other Stations’ properties in the Las Vegas area that are still non-union: Red Rock Resort, Palms Casino Resort, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Stations, Texas Stations, Fiesta Henderson, and Fiesta Station.

Local 226 has informed the public that there is still a labor dispute at these properties and urges people coming to Las Vegas for a vacation to patronize hotels and casinos listed at fairhotel.org.


UNITE HERE Calls for boycott of Trump’s businesses

After marching into the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Course in Los Angeles on September 27, members of UNITE HERE announced at the ritzy venue that the union was calling for a boycott of all businesses owned by Donald Trump and all businesses in which he has invested.

Two days later and four hundred miles up the road, UNITE HERE members in San Francisco rallied at the Bank of America building at 555 Californina Street.

“Trump is co-owner of 555 California St in San Francisco’s Financial District,” said a message on UNITE HERE’s Boycott Trump Facebook page. “We urge you to not patronize this Trump-related business until Trump Las Vegas complies with its obligation under federal law.”

The boycott stems from Trump’s refusal to negotiate a first contract with UNITE HERE’s Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas.

Housekeepers, bar workers, kitchen staff, and other workers at Trump International Hotel in December 2015 voted to join Local 226 in a union representation election.

Instead of negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement after the workers voted to unionize as required by law, the hotel’s management used appeals to the National Labor relations Board to avoid negotiating with the workers.

After the NLRB dismissed the appeals, management continued to stonewall the workers.

The stonewalling tactics led UNITE HERE to call for the boycott.

“Enough is enough,” said UNITE HERE President D. Taylor. “While Donald Trump waged an indefensible anti-worker and anti-immigrant presidential campaign, the workers at his Las Vegas hotel fought for dignity and respect in their workplace. They voted to unionize, they won, and now the law says Trump must negotiate.”

The workers’ union election victory was a long, hard-fought struggle. The organizing campaign began in 2014, and the workers had to overcome an aggressive anti-union campaign by management.

The hotel’s management hired the union avoidance firm Seyforth Shaw to fight the workers’ union drive.

During the almost two years that it took to secure a union election victory, workers endured threats, intimidation, a physical assault, and illegal surveillance.

Management implemented policies that prohibited free speech on the job to keep workers from talking about a union.

Some workers were suspended for wearing their union buttons to work, and some were fired for supporting the union.

The union managed to get the suspensions and firings reversed and back pay for those who were forced off their jobs.

While the organizing campaign was going on, the National Labor Relations Board filed three unfair labor practices complaints against Trump’s management.

After the workers won their union election, Trump’s management appealed and asked the NLRB to throw out the results.

Finally in July 2016, the NLRB dismissed Trump’s appeal, ruling that the appeal lacked merit.

Despite their lack of success at nullifying the results of the election, Trump’s hotel management continues to refuse to bargain with the union.

Having a union and a fair contract is crucial for the workers who have fought so long and hard for dignity and respect.

The Trump hotel is one of the few non-union hotels in Las Vegas. Trump Hotel workers in Las Vegas make $3.00 an hour less than their union counterparts. They also pay as much as $260 a month for health insurance. Union hotel workers don’t pay anything.

“We’re not second class workers,” said Eleuteria Blanco, a guestroom attendant at the Trump Hotel as she explained why she is continuing to fight for a good contract that will bring her up to the same level as the other 57,000 hotel workers who belong to Local 226.

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Local 226’s secretary treasurer urged other workers and anybody who believes in fair play for workers to stand with the Trump Hotel workers.

“After a disgraceful anti-union campaign against their own workers, the hotel still refuses to negotiate with their employees,” said Arguello-Kline, “We call on allies and workers to stand in solidarity in a national boycott until Donald Trump, the ‘Great Negotiator,’ comes to the table.”