Nevada Unions Demand First Dibs for Laid-Off Workers Amid Casino Hiring Spree

  • Culinary Union Local 226 is one union backing jobless hospitality employees in the state
  • Right to Return bill wants laid-off workers to receive preference ahead of new hires
  • Bill 386 calls for employers to re-hire former workers under previous contract terms
  • Station Casinos operator Red Rock Resorts and South Point are against the measure
  • MGM furloughed 140 managers in January, then hired “100 people on the spot” in April
Nevada State Legislature building
Laid-off casino workers in Nevada, supported by their unions, are calling on state lawmakers to pass a bill that will give them first shot at jobs. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Jobless picket outside Nevada statehouse

With most of Nevada’s casino-resorts returning to 100% capacity on gaming floors and travel to Las Vegas booming, hiring new staff has become a priority for the state’s gambling operators. Laid-off casino and hotel staff, with the support of their unions, want first shot at jobs. They took to the streets this week to actively voice their demands.

Culinary Union Local 226 is one union backing laid-off workers. The representative body took to Twitter to share a plea from former Station Casinos employee Maria Balandrán, who hopes for the passage of Senate Bill 386:

Former workers picketed outside the Nevada statehouse on Tuesday, pushing for lawmakers to pass the measure led by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas.

bring back laid-off employees at “pre-pandemic wages, rather than hire new workers”

If passed, Senate Bill 386 will require former employers to bring back laid-off employees at “pre-pandemic wages, rather than hire new workers”, the Associated Press reports.

Employers against the measure

The Associated Press added that unions including Culinary Union Local 226 want resorts and casinos to reinstate members with a minimum of six months’ employment under their belts before being let go. Laid-off staff would resume work under the terms of their previous contracts.

The unions’ push throws a budgetary spanner in the works of industry operators. Unsurprisingly, many of the casinos in Nevada are reportedly anti-Bill 386. According to the Las Vegas Sun, properties including the South Point and Red Rock Resorts, which runs Station Casinos, have stated that they are against the measure.

a heavy load on employers “through needless, time-consuming and counterproductive requirements”

In a statement, the Nevada Resort Association warned that Bill 386, also known as the Right to Return bill, would negatively impact the state’s post-pandemic comeback. It said the legislation would place a heavy load on employers “through needless, time-consuming and counterproductive requirements that will significantly slow down rehiring and further delay bringing more Nevadans back to work.”

In order for Bill 386 to pass, state lawmakers will need to vote on it before the legislative session ends this month.

From mass layoffs to hiring drives

The Nevada casino landscape seems a happier place following last Thursday’s masks-off-for-the-vaccinated ruling, coupled with the widespread ditching of plexiglass barriers. Actions around the Right to Return bill have, however, tinted the glasses of casino operators a darker shade of rose.

By April 2020, Nevada’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to a record 29.5%.

Thousands of employees in the hospitality industry were let go when the pandemic first showed its teeth. By April 2020, Nevada’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to a record 29.5%. Over the ensuing months, many resorts continued paying employees and extending health benefits while casinos remained shuttered.

The center could not hold. By November 2020, around 11.5% of the Las Vegas area workforce was unemployed, topping the nation’s jobless charts among 51 metro areas in the US. As things continued to fall apart, on January 6, 2021, MGM Resorts informed 140 managers working at its Las Vegas properties that they were being furloughed.

Now, just four months later, MGM Resorts International, like other casinos across the Las Vegas Valley, is hosting job fairs and ramping up recruitment. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MGM hired over “100 people on the spot” at an April job fair.