June 26 could be an interesting day to be walking around Las Vegas. Rephrasing, any day is an interesting day to be walking around Las Vegas, but Wednesday could be even more interesting. Since a couple of properties owned by Station Casinos aren’t willing to play nicely with employees who have decided to unionize, picketers are going to make their plight known in a very public fashion. The streets around Palms Casino Resort are going to become impassable this evening.
According to a press release from Director of Communication and Digital Strategy Bethany Khan of the Culinary Union Local 226, more than 1,000 members of the UNITE HERE union, to which Khan’s local pertains, are going to picket outside the casino from 5-6 p.m. local time. The move comes after the casino’s brass has refused to recognize a legal vote by employees to unionize, leading to allegations of federal employment law violations.
Because the brass won’t accept the results of the union vote, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has had to take its fight to court. Station Casinos has refused all attempts to negotiate the terms of a union contract with Palms Employees, forcing the NLRB to seek relief through legal channels.
According to Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, “Station Casinos always said it would respect the rights of its employees to organize and vote for a union. Yet after workers voted to unionize by 84% at Palms, the company tried to overturn the elections and are now illegally refusing to negotiate.”
Six casinos in Station’s portfolio have been working to unionize, finding resistance at every turn. These include Boulder Station, which voted in 2016, Palace Station and Green Valley Ranch, which voted the following year, Palms last year and Sunset Station and Fiesta Rancho from earlier this year.
The inability of Station executives to recognize the legality of the union should be enough to question its ability to continue to hold a Nevada gaming license. Whether or not companies agree with unions is irrelevant—they’re protected by law and businesses don’t have the option of denying workers’ rights to unionize.
The issue has become so frustrating for Station employees that they are taking their picketing efforts beyond company properties, as well. They announced a few days ago that they would also picket certain business partners of the casino operator across the country, including Bank of America, Citizens Bank, several law firms, a yacht company that built a vessel for Station owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, and others.