Vegas casino workers
likely to vote for strike

Bloomberg News

Las Vegas >> Las Vegas hotel and restaurant workers today are likely to authorize a strike, union and casino officials said, raising the threat of a walkout by 45,000 employees when the U.S. summer travel season begins.

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 want MGM Mirage, Park Place Entertainment Corp., Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and other employers to ease workloads and contribute more for health coverage.

About 3,000 hotel workers are still laid off after Sept. 11, and those who remain at work have been taking on more duties as travel rebounds, the unions said.

A walkout when the union's contract expires May 31 may slow recovery in Las Vegas following a drop in visitors in 2001, the first decline in 20 years as casino revenue slipped 1.5 percent. The last citywide strike occurred in 1984, when 17,000 culinary union workers walked out for two months, costing city businesses $150 million, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

"It's not good for the town," said Shannon Bybee, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. While "travel is coming back faster than everyone expected," a strike would divert potential visitors to other places, he said.

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