2 Vegas casinos reach tentative union contracts

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Tentative contract deals were reached Tuesday between two Las Vegas casinos and members of culinary and bartender unions, but a Sunday strike deadline still loomed for seven other downtown properties.

The pact reached with Boyd Gaming executives calls for five-year contracts for workers at the Fremont Hotel & Casino and Main Street Station. Specifics of the agreement were not immediately available.

Talks were continuing with most of the seven other casinos where contracts expired June 1, 2013.

About 2,000 union members work at the nine businesses.

Union officials say restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, cocktail servers, bartenders and other union members plan to walk off the job at 5 a.m. Sunday if contracts aren't reached with The D, Four Queens, Binion's, Plaza, Las Vegas Club, El Cortez and Golden Gate properties.

A date for a ratification vote by workers at Fremont Hotel & Casino and Main Street Station has not been set, but they will stay on the job next week as a result of the preliminary deal, officials said.

"We are pleased to have a tentative agreement," said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the culinary union. "Boyd has shown that they respect their employees and are invested in their workforce."

If a strike occurs, it would be the first since 2002, when workers picketed the Golden Gate casino for nine days. The union's most famous strike started in 1991 at the Frontier casino and lasted six years, four months and 10 days.

Union officials have been spreading the word to event planners and potential guests at the downtown casinos that their visits could be disrupted by picketing.

The culinary and bartenders unions negotiate together and have a combined 55,000 members.

Big-name casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp., previously reached new five-year contracts with the unions.

The agreements kept employees' health care costs from increasing, included provisions for more flexible scheduling and aimed to bring back workers laid off from shuttered eateries during the recession.