For seven years, Station Casinos has waged war against the Culinary Union and its efforts to unionize various properties. But last night, Green Valley Ranch in Henderson became the fourth Station property to unionize. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, and this latest union victory opens the door to union representation for even more Stations workers.
The long road to unionization
In 2010, hundreds of Station Casino workers formed an organizing committee in hopes they could eventually join Culinary. When Stations obstructed these workers’ campaign to join the union, Culinary responded by calling out various controversies swirling around UFC, the mixed martial arts organization that shared the same ownership as Station Casinos at the time. By 2012, Stations was running TV ads against Culinary while the union led a boycott campaign against Stations properties.
A major turning point arrived in 2014, when employees at Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, California, voted to join Unite Here Local 2850. The Native American tribal casino was the first Station affiliated property to allow workers a fair vote, and it was the first time Stations stood down and allowed unionization to proceed. Two years later, Culinary finally broke through on its home turf when Stations’ first Las Vegas casino voted to unionize. In September 2016 Boulder Station workers voted 355-177 to join Culinary Local 226.
At first, Culinary appeared to suffer a setback when Palace Station workers narrowly rejected the union in October 2016. But after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found evidence of Stations interfering in the election, the company reached a settlement in March 2017 that made Palace Station the third Stations property to unionize.
“We voted ‘Yes’ to join the Culinary Union because we deserve fair wages and good benefits.”
– Gladis Sosa de Funes, a Green Valley Ranch worker who voted to join Culinary
Following Culinary’s success at Boulder and Palace Stations, NLRB oversaw a union election at Green Valley Ranch this week. 730 Green Valley Ranch workers cast their ballots Wednesday and Thursday, and an overwhelming 78% of those workers voted to join Culinary. The landslide result was the most lopsided vote to date at any of Stations’ properties.
Why did so many Green Valley Ranch workers choose the union? In a statement provided by the union, guest room attendant Gladis Sosa de Funes explained the reasoning behind the vote: “We voted ‘Yes’ to join the Culinary Union because we deserve fair wages and good benefits.”
Though Stations has often boasted of its employee benefits, de Funes echoed complaints from other Stations workers about the company’s salaries, health insurance, and restrictions on time off. “Everyone knows the Culinary Health Plan is the best health insurance in Las Vegas, and we want our families to have it,” de Funes said.
What happens next?
Now that the votes have been cast, Green Valley Ranch workers and their new union can enter into negotiations with Stations management on a contract. Most likely, Green Valley Ranch workers will join negotiations that are already underway between Stations and Culinary Union members at Palace Station and Boulder Station.
Meanwhile, seven other Station Casinos properties in the Las Vegas Valley remain non-union: Red Rock Resort, Palms Casino Resort, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station, Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, and Fiesta Rancho. Stations management has insisted all union elections be done under the current federal rules, rather than the “card check” system preferred by union organizers.
Culinary continues to suspect Stations has been campaigning against the union at its casinos, including at Green Valley Ranch in the run-up to this week’s election. However, the union continues to organize at the other Stations properties in hopes they will eventually be able to vote on the union as well. Culinary’s latest victory at Green Valley Ranch suggests that despite any anti-union campaigning on the part of Stations, workers may decide to join the union anyway when given the chance to vote.
Cover photo provided by the Culinary Union.