Culinary workers get 10% wage increase in 1st year, 32% increase over 5 years under new contracts

By: - November 21, 2023 5:58 am

The Culinary is still negotiating contracts with several smaller Las Vegas properties. (Photo courtesy Culinary Workers Union Local 226)

The Culinary Workers Local 226 workers are ratifying new contracts with the three largest resorts this week, but the union is still negotiating with 24 other smaller properties on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas. 

Caesars Entertainment overwhelmingly voted on Monday to approve for a new , five year contract that included wage increases, mandated daily room cleaning and reduced cleaning quotas for housekeeping staff.

Union members at MGM Resorts are scheduled to vote Tuesday followed by Wynn on Wednesday. 

If the contracts are approved, Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said the union will move into the next round of negotiations for the remaining properties, which represents about 15,000 workers, and begin to set “multiple strike deadlines over the next two and a half months with those properties.”

“These companies, the first thing we always hear is that they are not MGM, they are not Caesars or they are not Wynn Resorts,” he said. “However, we are expecting and we will negotiate the same economic package and the same contract.”

While the union is negotiating different overall wage increases with downtown establishments, it is seeking the same 32% over five years increase agreed to by Strip resorts. 

“That’s going to be significant for those employers but they are having record years downtown,” Pappageorge said. “Those workers need it. We think those employers downtown should step up and do the right thing.”

He added it was important that the remaining resorts agree to the same deal reached on the Strip or else in future negotiations, “the large companies would never settle with us again because they know their competitors could get a cheaper deal.”

The union had been negotiating new contracts for the last seven months with MGM, Caesars and Wynn, which expired in June. Members voted in September to authorize a strike if contract demands weren’t meant. 

In addition to wage increases, the union sought greater protections against the threats posed by emerging technologies that could replace jobs.

A week before the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, the union set a strike deadline but was able to reach tentative agreement ahead of the race. 

Contract provisions announced Monday ahead of voting include a 10% wage increase in the first year and a 32% increase over the five-year life contract.

“We aren’t going into the details until the last day of voting,” on Wednesday, Pappageorge said. “By then I feel comfortable the members will have the opportunity to go through the details first.”

The new contract also includes a reduction in workload among housekeeping staff, more opportunities for advancement from back-of-the-house jobs to front-of-the-house jobs and mandated daily room cleaning. 

“Companies will clean daily,” he said. The contract also “negotiated opt out language that customers will use if they do want to hang a do not disturb sign or choose do not disturb.”

The requirement of daily room cleanings was adopted by the legislature in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic, but was repealed in the recent legislative session despite significant pushback from the union. 

Pappageorge reiterated on Monday the repeal became “front and center as a strike issue.”

“The legislature really let us down,” he added. “The Democrats, unfortunately, really let us down in the legislature.” 

Though a tentative agreement was reached by major resorts, union members could still reject the contract, which would result in a strike. 

From early feedback on Monday, Pappageorge didn’t expect that. 

A strike is still possible if any of the 24 remaining properties, though there is no set timeline. 

“Just because we’ve got these first three done doesn’t mean we won’t see strikes with these other companies,” Pappaegeorge said.  “We hope not.”

According to the Culinary, Strip properties where new contracts are still being negotiated are Circus Circus, Four Seasons, Hilton Grand Vacations, Mirage, Rio, Sahara Las Vegas, Strat, Treasure Island, Tropicana, Trump Hotel Las Vegas, Virgin Hotels, Waldorf Astoria, and Westgate.

The downtown Las Vegas properties still in negotiations are Binion’s, Circa, Downtown Grand, El Cortez, Four Queens, Fremont, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, Main Street, The D Casino, and Plaza.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.