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Thousands of Culinary Union members vote whether to strike

LAS VEGAS - Casino workers arrived by droves at the Thomas and Mack center Tuesday to cast their vote on whether to strike.

Contracts for 50,000 workers represented by the Culinary and Bartenders Union expire in just over a week and an agreement with 34 casinos hasn't been reached.

The union is holding two votes on Tuesday and should have results by 10 p.m.

Among their many demands are better pay, protection against sexual harassment and job security.

The morning voting session was crowded as union members were welcomed with chants as they arrived to cast their vote.

"Everybody gets nervous when they start calling for a strike vote. so, it's a serious time," said Steve Motley, food server at Excalibur.

It's a last ditch effort to put pressure on 34 Las Vegas Strip and downtown casinos. Contracts for the workers will expire June 1.

Negotionations for a new deal started in February but have not resulted in an agreement.

"How I feel about a potential strike is, if necessary so be it," said Irdell Houston, food & beverage cashier, Caesars Palace.

"Very nervous because you know, I have a house. I'm single. It's hard," said Judy Hahn, food & beverage cashier, Caesars Palace.

A majority vote will allow the negotiating committee to call for a strike after the contracts expire.

"I just hope they just sign the contract, you know get it over with," said Manolo Reyes, kitchen worker, Main Street Station.

Many of the properties are operated by MGM, Boyd Gaming, and Caesars Entertainment. In fact, Caesars Entertainment says they expect to reach an agreement on or before the date the contracts expire.

"We're asking for a package which reflects the economy right now and the company. They don't give it to us and we're asking to have job security," said Geoconda Arguello Klene, secretary treasurer, Culinary Union Local 226.

A strike could leave 34 properties without bartenders, guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, and other essential workers.

"A rally like this is just to show culinary members are still united and stick together," said Steve Motley, food server, Excalibur.

 


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