Opinion: Las Vegas Casino Contract Negotiations Have Come at Perfect Time for Workers

  • Las Vegas casino workers could strike after their contracts expired this month
  • Workers recently saved the day in the MGM cyberattack, keeping business running
  • Las Vegas will soon have a U2 residency and the F1, increasing need for staff
Contract on table
Las Vegas casino workers have a great opportunity to negotiate new deals with their employers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Out with the old

Las Vegas casino resorts are bracing themselves for impact. On Tuesday, 95% of Culinary Workers Union members approved strike action, meaning that workers on the infamous Las Vegas Strip could down tools at any point if their needs are not met in ongoing contract negotiations.

the trade union continues to angle for better pay, benefits, and working conditions

Contracts between workers and Las Vegas’s biggest resort owners, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts, expired on September 15. The terms of these deals remain in effect for now as the trade union continues to angle for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

The last time Culinary Workers Union members committed to a strike it lasted for more than six years, so we can expect the casinos to be a little more reasonable this time around. The timing is also perfect for the workers for a number of reasons, ranging from recent cyber security issues to major upcoming events.

Workers save the day

MGM and Caesars have both had a difficult few weeks in Las Vegas. The casino giants suffered cybersecurity attacks by ALPHV that cost them millions of dollars to combat. In the case of Caesars, the operator reportedly had to pay $15m to prevent any major technical issues. However, it was MGM’s situation that had more ramifications for worker contracts.

MGM refused to pay any ransom and subsequently lost up to $8.4m each day as it struggled to get its systems back online for nearly two weeks. That struggle led to major issues at its properties, including manual payouts for slot machine wins and eye-watering queues for hotel check-in. It was MGM’s hospitality staff who came to the rescue, working overtime to ensure everything ran smoothly.

As reported by Las Vegas Locally on September 19, casino employees were shifted between properties to help with everything from slot hand pays to elevator attendant duties. At the same time, reports suggested there were issues with toke pool money and the payment of wages. Although these problems were ultimately resolved, employees also had to deal with the fact that their own information had been compromised in the hack.

Anonymous MGM employees took to social media to complain that hackers had access to their
entire employment history, social media, and bank information. They also said that they had no work schedule or vacation hours during the cyberattack.

MGM posted on X multiple times during the hack to commend its staff for keeping things flowing – posts the operator has since deleted. Perhaps the operator doesn’t want its employees getting too much credit when wage negotiations are on the line. Whatever the case, the workers have truly shown their worth at a crucial time.

A busy schedule

To make matters worse for the casinos and even more beneficial for their staff, Las Vegas has a busy schedule ahead for the rest of the year. If the Culinary Union were to implement a strike that lasted months, it could leave MGM, Caesars, and Wynn in a very sticky situation.

Firstly, U2 is ready to open up Las Vegas’s newest concert venue, the Sphere. The legendary band will launch its new Las Vegas residency on Friday, bringing 20,000 concert-goers to Las Vegas. Marking four years since their last live performance, U2’s Sphere show has plenty of hype behind it, and casinos and hotels are prepared to take advantage of the action, which will last right through to December 16.

casinos and hotels will need their workers to ensure they can hold up their end of the bargain

Then, Formula 1 is coming to the Las Vegas Strip at the end of November. The November 26 race, which will feature a course that winds around the Strip and its famous casinos, will welcome thousands of spectators to the gambling hub. Hotels are offering incredibly pricey luxury packages and the Venetian and Wynn have even sponsored the Grand Prix. No doubt casinos and hotels will need their workers to ensure they can hold up their end of the bargain.

These events will be at the forefront of minds on the Las Vegas Strip. If the workers can actually utilize these factors to their advantage, then they can secure contracts equivalent to all the hard work they do, possibly even avoiding any strike action along the way. For now, we will have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.

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