Improved pay

Members of Culinary Local 226 overwhelmingly approved new five-year contracts with both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International this week, avoiding possible strike action. Caesars employees voted 99 percent in favor on Monday, while MGM workers did the same on Tuesday.

Wynn employees are up next and are expected to hold their vote on Wednesday (the vote had not been taken or publicized at the time of publishing).

The hospitality workers were fighting for better pay, better work-life balance, and protections against potential job-killing technology and it looks like they got it.

Union leaders said that every worker will receive a healthy 10 percent wage increase in the first year of the deal, retroactive to June 1. Over the life of the five-year contract, they will get a 32 percent total increase. The union also negotiated lower workloads for its members.

Tech protection

Similar to how the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild of America fought for protections against the use of AI in television and filmmaking, so did the union want assurances against tech that could prompt the casino companies to phase out jobs. The new contract requires the companies to give the union and employees six months’ notice before new technology is introduced. The unions must also have a seat at the table when choosing prototypes and vendors.

The contract does not guarantee that jobs will never be replaced by technology – after all, industries are always going to move forward – but it does require that the companies provide new training opportunities for employees who are affected by new tech.

Additionally, workers who get laid off will receive $2,000 in severance for every year they were employed plus six months of health and pension benefits.

One would guess that Wynn employees will also ratify the new contracts, but that isn’t a given. In Detroit, MGM Grand workers are still on strike, even after their colleagues at Motorcity Casino and Hollywood Casino at Greektown agreed on new contracts.

Even if Wynn workers give the contracts the thumbs-up, Las Vegas casinos won’t be quite rid of the threat of a strike. Though MGM, Caesars, and Wynn cover a ton of casinos and employees, there are still 24 independent casinos on both the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas that have yet to reach an agreement with the culinary union.

Negotiations continue, but union leaders have said but strike deadlines could be set by the end of the year for casinos on the Strip and by early 2024 for downtown casinos.

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