Thousands of unionized hotel and casino workers in Las Vegas are ready to go on strike for the first time in more than three decades.
About 25,000 members of the Culinary Union voted Tuesday to authorize a citywide strike in Las Vegas unless they reach a contract deal with their employers by June 1, union spokeswoman Bethany Khan said.
The contracts of 50,000 workers, including bartenders, guest room attendants, cocktail servers, porters and cooks at 34 casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas are set to expire May 31.
The workers eligible for the strike are about half of the hospitality employee population in the city, Khan said.
Workers are looking to protect their jobs, health care and benefits, according to Khan. Union officials are also negotiating for stronger contracts that will give workers greater protections when it comes to sexual harassment and immigration.
The strike could put operations in jeopardy at resorts like Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand Las Vegas and Stratosphere Casino.
Wearing red T-shirts with "Vegas Strong" or their work uniforms, thousands of workers descended Tuesday on the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to vote.
Chad Neanover, a prep cook at Margaritaville, was among the thousands of workers who support the possibility of striking. He wants to make sure his job is not outsourced "to a robot."
"We know technology is coming, but workers shouldn't be pushed out or left behind," Neanover said in a statement. "Casino companies should ensure that technology is harnessed to improve the quality and safety in the workplace, not as a way to completely eliminate our jobs."
To avoid a strike, all 34 casinos would need to reach an agreement with the unionized hospitality workers.
"A strike is a last resort. We want to come to an agreement, but the union and workers are preparing for a citywide strike if contracts are not settled by June 1," said Geoconda Arg-ello-Kline, the union's secretary-treasurer.
The last citywide strike by Culinary Union workers took place in 1984. During the 67 days of the strike, the Strip lost an estimated $75 million in revenue, according to the union.
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