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Union reaches tentative agreement with MGM, negotiations continue for other properties

LAS VEGAS - Thousands of union workers are one step closer to stopping a strike on the Strip. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 reached a tentative agreement with MGM Resorts International late Saturday night. MGM Resorts International is the Las Vegas Strip's biggest employer. This tentative agreement comes one day after a deal between the union and Caesars Entertainment.

A video posted to social media by the Culinary Union shows members clapping and cheering Saturday night, after another successful negotiation.

The new tentative five-year agreement between the Culinary Union and MGM Resorts International covers roughly 24,000 workers at 10 casino resorts.

Union spokesperson Bethany Khan released the following statement to 8 News Now in regards to the MGM agreement: "The historic new agreement has the strongest economic package ever negotiated with the highest wage increases and healthcare and pension benefits for workers.

The contract includes groundbreaking language on worker security regarding sexual harassment, workload, technology, and immigration."

Union members have been preparing for a possible strike since contracts for 50,000 workers expired at midnight on June 1st. But with two major deals with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment reached so far, there's some progress.

"We're going to keep the American Dream, we feel really good because the guestroom attendants, the kitchen workers, the cooks, everybody is going to continue to have a good standard," said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

Even with the two current tentative agreements, the Culinary Union says they are still in negotiations with around 15 Las Vegas casinos and resorts.

According to the union, those include Tropicana, the Stratosphere, Treasure Island, Westgate and the Four Seasons on the Strip, and Binions, Fremont, El Cortez, Downtown Grand, the Plaza, and the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas.

Even for workers now in the clear, they want everyone else at the properties still in negotiations to feel secure.

"This whole thing really only works if we're in solidarity with each other and we operate as a unit," said Rory Kuykendall, who works at The Flamingo, which is part of Caesars Entertainment. "We're just one union, and it's really important for us to make sure that they get the same standard of living that we got in our contract and all the protections that we got."

The Culinary Union's headquarters were quiet on Sunday, as negotiations continue behind closed doors. Many workers say that going on strike is a last resort.

"I hope it doesn't come to a strike," said Donna Fugate, a bartender at Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace. "Ultimately it's a no-win, it looks bad for both sides."

Again, the remaining negotiations will continue into this week. If no agreements can be reached, there is still the possibility of union members going on strike. Roughly 25,000 union members voted to authorize a strike last month.


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