Casino Workers in Las Vegas Vote in Favor of Joining UAW

The UAW headquarters in Detroit
Casino workers in Las Vegas have voted to join the UAW, to help them improve their negotiating power with their employers.

30-second summary:

  • Casino workers in Las Vegas gave their approval to join the UAW
  • The union will help them negotiate better deals with their employers
  • There are concerns about layoffs in the city, with robots potentially replacing certain types of staff

Details of the vote

Casino workers at a number of well-known casinos in Las Vegas have voted in favour of joining a trade union. This includes employees at the Wynn, Paris, Harrah’s and Bally’s.

The workers will be joining the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agriculture Implement Workers of America, better known as the Union of Automobile Workers (UAW).

The UAW already has more than 8,000 casino employee members, and over 400,000 members in total.

There was a recent vote on the issue, which got a lot of support. The move will add further power to the gaming workers when it comes to demands from their employers. Following the vote, it covers nearly 1,500 casino workers in Las Vegas.

President of the UAW Gary Jones said: “We welcome our new UAW sisters and brothers to the UAW family. Gaming dealers at Bally’s, Harrah’s, Paris and the Wynn will now join the over 8,000 UAW members in casinos across the country.

“We expect another successful vote from Caesars’ workers next week. With these votes, the UAW is proud to have organized almost 9,000 new members since June of 2018.”

What is the UAW?

The UAW has been in operation since 1935 and has had more than a million members over the course of its operations. It represents workers in both the United States and Canada. In the early years, its main focus was to help increase wages and pensions for workers in the automobile industry.

From the 1980s and onwards, the union began to see a decline in its membership numbers. This was largely due to many cars being imported from overseas, as well as more automation in the automobile industry.

The union gradually widened its scope to include workers from other industries, such as higher education, healthcare and casino gambling. The headquarters for the union is in Detroit, Michigan.

Concerns for casino workers in Las Vegas

Casino workers in Las Vegas traditionally have worked closely with unions to ensure they get a fair deal from their employers.

Tensions ran high in 2018 between casino workers and their employers after a five-year labor agreement expired. This nearly led to 50,000 workers in the city casinos walking out of work.

However, the Culinary Workers Union, which was leading the charge, gave the order to cancel the strike as they came to an agreement with one of the major casino operators. This was despite the fact that there was 99% approval for strike action from the members of the union.

The strike would have been the first covering the city since 1984. The main casino employees who are members of the CWU work in the kitchens or as servers.

Potential automation

There are growing concerns about automation taking over jobs in the casino sector in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts, for example, is planning to replace some of its Las Vegas staff with robots. This would cut costs significantly, but it will not be met well by the workers.

The main workers who might be replaced would be bartenders and cashiers. Automatic technology can now pour and mix drinks. The cashiers can be replaced by giving mobile payment processors to the wait staff.

There is no indication as to exactly how many jobs could be lost as a result of this move. However, it is known that the MGM is looking to cut about 2,100 workers in the coming year as part of its MGM 2020 plan.

MGM believes using robots would save them about $200m in the first few years and eventually another $100m in further years. Naturally, the unions will be watching this move closely.