Union still in negotiations with independent Las Vegas casino resorts

LAS VEGAS - The future of thousands of hospitality workers in Las Vegas is still up in the air.

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has reached tentative agreements with both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. But several independent casino resorts are still in limbo right now. So how are negotiations going -- and is a strike still possible?

The Culinary Union says it is making progress in their fight for casino resort employees. But for people like single mother Elvia Espinoza, everything is still up in the air. Espinoza is a guest room attendant at Westgate, one of five independent properties on the Strip still in contract negotiations, according to the union. What is at stake? The union says better wages, job security, and workplace safety.

"I live paycheck to paycheck," Espinoza said. "It's very important, my health insurance, my pension, the raise, everything."

The union says the casino resorts on the Strip that are in negotiations are: Tropicana, Stratosphere, SLS, Treasure Island, Westgate and the Four Seasons. But it is not just properties on the Strip that are in limbo. Casinos and resorts in Downtown Las Vegas are also still in negotiations. According to the union, those include Binions, Fremont, El Cortez, Golden Nugget, Downtown Grand and the Plaza Hotel. That is around a dozen properties total, affecting roughly 14,000 employees.

"We have a lot of more companies to go," said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

Arguello-Kline says the union is starting with Treasure Island but will need to negotiate contracts with each independent property separately. She says they are trying to get workers at these smaller properties similar contracts to those of employees at casino resorts owned by Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International.

"We have to work with everyone individually, but we have a standard. We protect the benefits and we protect the future of these families," Arguello-Kline said. "We believe we could get a tentative agreement with them too and that's what we have to get ready for."

Union workers have also been preparing to go on strike since contracts for around 50,000 total workers expired on June 1st. But with two major tentative agreements reached with both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International -- and with other negotiations underway -- will picket lines form?

"You never know, you know, that's the thing," Arguello-Kline said.

Espinoza also feels that uncertainty. But she says she is staying strong -- especially for her family.

"I'm worried we don't have a contract, and to have a strike, I don't want it," Espinoza said. "But at the same time, I'm ready to do what I need to do."

There is no timeline on how long negotiations could take for the remaining properties. The five-year tentative agreements with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International also still need to be officially ratified by union members.

Stay with 8 News Now for more updates on this developing story.

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