Las Vegas – November 22, 2023
Las Vegas, the entertainment and sporting capital of the world, experienced an unexpected twist as the much-anticipated Formula One Grand Prix rolled into town, inadvertently catalyzing a groundbreaking agreement between casino giants and the Culinary and Bartenders Union. The 3timing of the deal, just five days before the F1’s glittering opening ceremony on the famed Las Vegas Strip, has union organizers celebrating their victories, asserting that this turn of events is more than mere coincidence.
The Culinary and Bartenders Union successfully finalized five-year contracts with major players in the hospitality industry, including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts, which collectively oversee 18 prominent casinos in the heart of Sin City. This accomplishment marked the resolution of a protracted standoff and averted the looming threat of a mass worker strike meticulously timed to coincide with the Grand Prix weekend. Such a scenario would have spelled disaster for the bustling casinos and hotels as thousands of global tourists and high-rollers descended upon the city.
As union leaders move towards the ratification of these historic contracts on Wednesday, they proudly declare it as “the best contract ever” for approximately 40,000 workers. The agreements boast unprecedented wage hikes, new workload limitations, recall rights, and even protections against the impact of artificial intelligence technology on labor.
Ted Pappageorge, the Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer and chief negotiator, acknowledged that the addition of the Formula One race provided workers with valuable “leverage” during negotiations. He attributed this leverage not only to the prestigious sporting event but also to the unity among workers who were prepared to strike if their demands were not met.
According to Pappageorge, Las Vegas now stands as the ultimate convergence of the sporting and entertainment worlds, solidifying its position as a global events hub. However, he emphasized that the success of their negotiations relied on the credible threat of a real strike.
Union leaders had strategically crafted a strike pay plan and established picket lines across the Strip before the deal was reached. They actively urged Formula One ticket-holders to support workers by avoiding casinos and hotels embroiled in the labor dispute. The prospect of the “largest hospitality worker strike in U.S. history” loomed large, posing a significant operational risk for the casinos and potentially leaving a sour taste for the burgeoning American fanbase that flocked to witness the Grand Prix spectacle.
An anonymous union organizer involved in the negotiations revealed to NBC News that the F1 race provided them with “a lot of leverage” to secure concessions. The organizer explained that the sheer number of workers—40,000 in total—going on strike would have left casinos and hotels unable to adequately staff their properties. Future events in Las Vegas, including the AWS conference next week and the National Finals Rodeo in December, played a pivotal role in pressuring casino and hotel operators. The organizer highlighted that events scheduled for early 2024, such as the Consumer Electronics Show and the Super Bowl, further influenced the negotiations.
Bill Hornbuckle, President, and CEO of MGM Resorts International expressed satisfaction with the tentative contract, describing it as an “agreement that works for all parties” and averting the looming specter of a strike.