Possible Culinary Strike

When I was growing up back in the 1960s and my mom was working as one of the head waitresses at Caesars Palace Circus Maximus, the word STRIKE struck fear in our family.  It meant mom would be walking a picket line and without a paycheck or the great tips from being a great waitress.  The Culinary Union welded great power back then. 

After one crippling strike, the head of the Union, Al Bramlett (beloved by many who had come from small Southern towns where they picked cotton from sun up to sun down earning less than $3 a day) went missing and was found later in a shallow grave in the desert.  There were a couple of STRIKES while mom was still a member of the Culinary Union and I don't remember any of them fondly.

I was caught remembering this because of this from KLAS-8 HD:

More than 8,000 culinary and bartender workers voted overwhelmingly to strike. Union members cast their votes today at Cashman Field.

The stage is set for a possible citywide culinary strike, something Las Vegas has not seen in nearly 25 years.

No strike date has been set.

About 10,000 union members are still without a contract at a handful of downtown and Strip casinos. Many of the union members Eyewitness News spoke with say they're willing to strike, to get a deal.

Beverly Bairos, Las Vegas Hilton cocktail server, said, "We deserve good working conditions and good paid health benefits and we deserve good wages. I don't want to work for 5.25 an hour, which is what others have to do who don't have contracts."

Mark Estrella, Fremont Hotel food server, said, "We're all for one and one for all. We have a dream in Las Vegas and we're fighting to keep it."

Representatives of the Tropicana, one of the properties still negotiating say:

"The call for a strike vote this early on in the negotiations is very disappointing.

"We have only met with the union three times and have already stated our intention to propose wage increases that are at or above the prevailing rate on the Strip."

The union says of the 8,000 votes cast, more than 99-percent voted to give the union the authority to strike at 14 Las Vegas casinos and two industrial laundries.

The following hotel/casino properties with affirmative strike vote results:

El Cortez
Four Queens
Golden Gate
Golden Nugget
Jerry's Nugget
Las Vegas Club
Las Vegas Hilton
Main Street
Al Phillips (Laundry)
Mission Industries (Laundry)

(6 p.m.) -- Thousands of hotel/casino workers will decide Wednesday whether to call for a strike. Negotiations over new contract settlements for several hotel/casinos are at a standstill.

Contracts have already been negotiated with MGM/Mirage, Harrah's, the Sahara and other big Strip properties.  However, there are 14 properties which the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 have not yet reached contract agreements.

With the exception of the Tropicana, the properties are all along Fremont Street. The union has also not reached a contract agreement with two local laundry service providers; Al Phillips and Mission Industries.

More than 10,000 casino and laundry workers are affected by the vote but all 60,000 members are eligible to vote.

The unions represent food servers, cooks, bellmen and housekeepers to name a few. Union representatives hope this strike vote will put pressure on the properties to sign new deals quickly.

Representatives from the Tropicana said the call for a strike vote this early on in negotiations is very disappointing.

Union representatives say more than 4,000 members cast their vote at the morning session at Cashmen Field. There will be another vote Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

"The cost of living has gone us so much and we need to protect our health insurance," said Mark Estrella, Fremont Hotel food server.

The union announced recently that is has a strike contingency fund of $80 million dollars, the largest they have ever had.