Nevada’s Local 226 cries foul after Boulder Station ends union ties

What do Boulder Station casino workers really want? That’s the question at the heart of a new fight between the Station Casino operated Las Vegas Casino and the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 (C 126), after Boulder Station declared it will no longer recognize or bargain with unions.

The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that a majority of employees at the Station casino have signed a petition to no longer be represented by C226, or Bartenders Local 165. Station Casinos followed up by noting they would no longer bargain with the unions, respecting their employees wishes.

“We look forward to having the same direct relationships with this group of Team Members as we do with the other Team Members at Boulder Station,” Chief Operating Officer Bob Finch said in a statement.

C 126 doesn’t think this petition drive came naturally and are already getting ready for a fight. “Station Casinos continues to waste time trying to bust the union,” union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said in a Monday statement. “The Culinary Union has filed an unfair labor practice charge regarding the withdrawal and has demanded to negotiate immediately.”

Station Casinos is claiming innocence though, and they ask that the unions “immediately recognize and respect (the staff’s) democratically made decision to reject the union at both Red Rock and Boulder Station.” They added: “As a reminder, Station Casinos did not reject the union. Boulder Station team members did.”

The two sides have a history of friction. Boulder Station employees voted for union representation in 2016, but nearby Palace Station voted against the union after C 126 alleges they manipulated sentiments amongst employees. An appeal to the National Labor Board Relations (NLBR) eventually overturned that vote.

More recently, C 126 has pursued action against Station Casinos for going ahead with layoffs during the Covid-19 pandemic without any attempt to bargain with the union.

The union is planning a rally on August 18 outside the Clark County Commission, demanding a “right to return” for employees who were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, as casinos continue to reopen.

According to a Monday statement from Station Casinos, Boulder Station will no longer recognize or bargain with the unions.

Workers at the property had been represented by the union since 2016, after a majority voted for union representation. A total of 532 of the 576 eligible employees voted, with 355 approving Culinary representation and 177 voting against it.

Employees at six other Station Casinos properties — Palace Station, the Palms, Sunset Station, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Green Valley Ranch Resort — have also voted to join the union. Employees at Red Rock Resort, another Station Casinos property, voted against union representation in December.

Station Casinos, which operates under Red Rock Resorts Inc., said it asks the union to

The Culinary union told the Review-Journal it believes Station Casinos has withdrawn union recognition at Boulder Station unlawfully and has filed an unfair-labor-practice charge. It said it has demanded to negotiate immediately.

The local Culinary union and bartenders union represent roughly 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno.

Station Casinos claims the union’s accusations about unlawful behavior are “limp.”

The union and Station Casinos have a rocky history.

One month after Boulder Station voted to unionize, a majority of employees at Palace Station narrowly rejected union representation by the Culinary union in 2016. The union accused Station Casinos of manipulating the Palace Station vote.

Station Casinos agreed to settle an unfair-labor-practices complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board in 2017, and workers gained union representation.

In 2018, the NLRB ordered Green Valley Ranch to negotiate a contract with the Culinary union after workers voted in favor of union representation. The company appealed the ruling and accused the union of engaging in “objectionable conduct” during its campaign to unionize.

Strip-adjacent property the Palms had repeatedly appealed the results of an April 2018 employee election that voted in favor of union representation, claiming the union once again engaged in “objectionable conduct” during its campaign. The NLRB issued a decision in 2019 saying the Palms acted unlawfully by refusing to recognize and bargain with the Culinary and bartenders unions and required the company to cease and desist.

The NLRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Late last year, the union accused Station Casinos of interfering with Red Rock Resort workers’ right to a fair election by making its health maintenance organization health plan premium-free and deductible-free just days before the election was held.

In May, the company said it would lay off a significant portion of its workforce. This month, executives at Red Rock Resorts said its workforce has been cut in half since the beginning of the crisis. The union alleges that the company failed to bargain prior to layoffs.