Station Casinos Dispute with Culinary Union Continues as Clark County Officials Mull Vegas Casino Plans

  • The Culinary Union sent out postcards to sway public opinion against the Durango casino project
  • Clark County Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the plans already okayed by the community
  • The dispute between Station Casinos and the union led to a federal court case earlier this year
  • The Culinary Union supported the Right to Return Bill for Las Vegas casino workers to regain jobs
Casino worker with chips
Clark County Commissioners have met to consider plans for a new Station Casinos project in Las Vegas, but the Culinary Union has attempted to turn public opinion against the project. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Culinary Union causing trouble

Nevada-based casino operator Station Casinos has owned a 71-acre plot of land on Durango Drive near the Las Vegas Strip for more than two decades. Now, it wants to build a casino on the plot with a 99,000 square-foot gaming space, but a workers union group called the Culinary Union has caused some difficulties.

concerns about public safety and traffic

The group attempted to sway local opinion against the new Durango project with postcards mailed to residents of the area last month. According to the union, members of the local community have expressed concerns about public safety and traffic. In contrast, Station Casinos has argued that the project will create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars for the community.

Despite the casino union’s best efforts, the Spring Valley Town Advisory Board voted in favor of the project in a meeting last week. The casino still requires the approval of Clark County Commissioners, who met yesterday to discuss the project. Officials will make a final decision after a second meeting on September 21.

Commenting on the issue recently, Station Casinos described the Culinary Union’s actions as “harrassment.”

A long-running dispute

To say Station Casinos and the Culinary Union do not see eye to eye would be an understatement. The union has gained significant support from workers across Las Vegas, but Station Casinos and its parent company Red Rock Resorts, have repeatedly rebuffed efforts by employees to join.

The National Labor Relations Board has acccused the operator of using the pandemic as a reason to disregard unions. This ultimately led to a federal court case in July of this year in which a judge ordered the operator to recognize the Culinary Union. The body’s secretary-treasurer, Geoconda Argüello-Kline, described the decision as “extraordinary and vindicating.”

100 of the operator’s employees attended the protest

The dispute came to a head again in late August, when Station Casinos staged a picket line protest outside the Culinary Union’s downtown office in Las Vegas. Around 100 of the operator’s employees attended the protest, mainly consisting of supervisors and management personnel. They held signs with slogans such as “We Despise Union Lies,” and “Station Benefits: FREE Health Care, Medical Centers, Retirement Plan.”

The union’s attempt to block the Durango project is just the latest in this long-running saga. As Clark County Commissioners consider the plans, the Culinary Union has demanded updated studies on the impact of the new gambling venue, which will also include a 452-room hotel and 20,000 square feet of dining space. An impact study from three years ago suggested that daily traffic would increase from 18,533 to 78,558 vehicles per day. 

Supporting workers rights

In May, the Culinary Union was among a number of groups that aimed to support laid-off Las Vegas-based casino workers through a new bill. The Right to Return Bill, or Senate Bill 386, applies to casino workers who lost their jobs after March 12, 2020 for economic reasons associated with the pandemic. It allows them to regain their previous roles.

Due in part to the lobbying of the Culinary Union, the legislation passed through the Nevada State Legislature in June. This also caused conflict with Station Casinos owner Red Rock Resorts, though, which actively opposed the bill. Opponents argued that it would negatively impact the state’s post pandemic comeback, placing a heavy load on employers.

Despite the concerns of some operators, Las Vegas casinos have seen an impressive recovery from the effects of the pandemic. In July, Strip casinos hit a record high for gaming revenue at $793.7m for the month, breaking the previous record set in 2013. Nevada revenue also surpassed the all-time high, reaching $1.35bn in July.