NATIONAL NEWS

Wynn joins Caesars and MGM in reaching tentative deal to avoid a strike by Las Vegas hotel workers

Nov 9, 2023, 9:03 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2023, 2:50 am

FILE - Members of the Culinary Workers Union rally along the Las Vegas Strip, Thursday, Aug. 10, 20...

FILE - Members of the Culinary Workers Union rally along the Las Vegas Strip, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Las Vegas. After a marathon week of negotiations, the Las Vegas hotel workers union says it has reached a tentative deal with Wynn Resorts. It was the last contract the Culinary Workers Union needed to avoid a strike Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, and came after the union's tentative deals with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — After a marathon week of negotiations, the Las Vegas hotel workers union announced that it reached a tentative deal with Wynn Resorts, preventing a strike that was set to begin Friday morning if bargaining had failed.

The new 5-year contract announced early Friday covers 5,000 employees at the company’s flagship hotel-casino and Encore Resorts. It comes on the heels of deals made earlier in the week with casino giants Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts.

Experts said a strike by workers at the companies would have been historic, especially as hundreds of thousands of people were expected to attend next week Formula 1’s debut on the Las Vegas Strip.

The union says the contracts will provide more than 35,000 workers at 18 properties with historic pay raises and other unprecedented wins, like mandatory daily room cleanings.

Over seven months of bargaining, the workers said they were willing to strike over that issue, which underscored the big issues that the union said it wanted to address for workers across the board in their first contract since the pandemic. That includes better job security, working conditions and safety.

Terms of the contracts weren’t immediately released. The union said the deals are pending approval by the rank and file.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Over seven months of tense negotiations, mandatory daily room cleanings underscored the big issues that Las Vegas union hotel workers were fighting to address in their first contracts since the pandemic: job security, better working conditions and safety while on the job.

From the onset of bargaining, Ted Pappageorge, the chief contract negotiator for the Culinary Workers Union, had said tens of thousands of workers whose contracts expired earlier this year would be willing to go on strike to make daily room cleanings mandatory.

“Las Vegas needs to be full service,” he said last month.

It was a message that Pappageorge and the workers would repeat for months as negotiations ramped up and the union threatened to go on strike if they didn’t have contracts by first light on Friday with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts.

But by dawn Thursday, after a combined 40 hours of negotiations, the union had secured tentative labor deals with MGM Resorts and Caesars, narrowly averting a sweeping strike at 18 hotel-casinos along the Strip.

The threat of a strike on a much smaller scale still loomed while negotiations were underway Thursday evening with Wynn Resorts. But a walkout wasn’t likely given the tentative deals already reached with the Strip’s two largest employers.

Terms of the deals weren’t immediately released, but the union said in a statement the proposed five-year contracts will provide workers with historic wage increases, reduced workloads and other unprecedented wins — including mandated daily room cleanings.

Before the pandemic, daily room cleanings were routine. Hotel guests could expect fresh bedsheets and new towels by dinnertime if a “Do Not Disturb” sign wasn’t hanging on their hotel room doors.

But as social distancing became commonplace in 2020, hotels began to cut back on room cleanings.

More than three years later, the once industry-wide standard has yet to make a full comeback. Some companies say it’s because there are environmental benefits to offering fewer room cleanings, like saving water.

MGM Resorts and Caesars didn’t respond Thursday to emailed requests for comment about the issue. Pappageorge said this week that, even as negotiations came down to the wire ahead of the union’s plans to strike, the union and casino companies were the “farthest apart” on the issue.

A spokesman for Wynn Resorts said they already offer daily room cleanings and did not cut back on that service during the pandemic.

Without mandatory daily room cleanings, Pappageorge has said, “the jobs of tens of thousands of workers are in jeopardy of cutbacks and reduction.”

It’s a fear that Las Vegas hotel workers across the board shared in interviews with The Associated Press since negotiations began in April — from the porters and kitchen staff who work behind the scenes to keep the Strip’s hotel-casinos running, to the cocktail servers and bellman who provide customers with the hospitality that has helped make the city famous.

During the pandemic, the hospitality industry learned how to “do more with less,” said David Edelblute, a Las Vegas-based attorney and lobbyist whose corporate clients include gaming and hospitality companies.

And that combination, he said, could be “pretty catastrophic” for the labor force.

Rory Kuykendall, a bellman at Flamingo Las Vegas, said in September after voting to authorize a strike that he wanted stronger job protection against the inevitable advancements in technology to be written into their new union contract.

“We want to make sure that we, as the workers, have a voice and a say in any new technology that is introduced at these casinos,” he said.

That includes technology already at play at some resorts: mobile check-in, automated valet tickets and robot bartenders.

Pappageorge, who led the negotiating teams that secured tentative deals this week with the casino giants, said a cut in daily room cleanings also poses health and safety concerns for the housekeepers who still had to reach a daily room quota.

Jennifer Black, a guest room attendant at Flamingo Las Vegas, described her first job in the hospitality sector as “back-breaking.”

A typical day on the job, she said, requires her to clean 13 rooms after guests have checked out. Each room takes between 30-45 minutes to clean, but rooms that haven’t been cleaned for a few days, she said, take more time to turn over.

“We’re working through our lunch breaks to make it,” she said. “Our workload is far too much.”

National News

Associated Press

Several gun bills inspired by mass shooting are headed for final passage in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A series of gun safety bills introduced after the deadliest shooting in Maine history appears to be headed toward final passage as the state Legislature races to wrap up its session this week. The House followed the Senate on Monday in approving the governor’s omnibus gun safety bill that strengthens the […]

20 minutes ago

Image: Former President Donald Trump speaks to the press in Manhattan state court in New York City ...

Associated Press

Trump’s hush money trial gets underway; 1st day ends without any jurors selected

The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case.

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Abu Ghraib detainee shares emotional testimony during trial against Virginia military contractor

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former detainee at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison described to jurors Monday the type of abuse that is reminiscent of the scandal that erupted there 20 years ago: beatings, being stripped naked and threatened with dogs, stress positions meant to induce exhaustion and pain. The testimony from Salah Al-Ejaili, a […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge orders psych evaluation for Illinois man charged in 4 killings

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — A judge on Monday ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a northern Illinois man charged with killing four people and injuring seven others by stabbing, beating and driving over them. Winnebago County Judge Debra Schafer ordered the evaluation for Christian Soto when the 22-year-old man appeared in court by video link for […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Paris Hilton joined California state lawmakers Monday to push for legislation aimed at cracking down on the industry that cares for troubled teens by requiring more transparency from youth treatment facilities. The bill supported by the Hilton Hotel heiress and media personality aims to pry open information on how short-term residential […]

14 hours ago

Associated Press

California officials sue Huntington Beach over voter ID law passed at polls

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — California officials on Monday sued Huntington Beach over a new law that lets the city require voters to provide identification to cast ballots at the polls starting in 2026. The state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta said the measure approved by voters in the Southern California city of nearly 200,000 people […]

14 hours ago

Wynn joins Caesars and MGM in reaching tentative deal to avoid a strike by Las Vegas hotel workers