The Fight for Economic Justice at Station Casinos of Las Vegas

Over 6,000 casino workers in Las Vegas have been fighting to win a better future for themselves and their families for almost a decade. They are fighting for better pay, better benefits, job security, and respect and dignity on the job. 

These workers are cooks, kitchen workers, food servers, bartenders, cocktail servers, housekeepers, and other service workers that make their company, Station Casinos, successful.

Last year the company generated $1.5 billion in revenue in Las Vegas alone. Station Casinos workers, however, make less than workers doing the same jobs at unionized casinos on the Strip and do not get the same affordable family healthcare and retirement benefits like at those union casinos. In the absence of a union contract, they also do not have any job security, not to mention fair scheduling, fair seniority rules, or a fair grievance process.

These workers are rising up and organizing because they want to be treated fairly and paid fairly. They do not want to be second-class workers in their own city anymore. Their fight for economic justice is a crucial struggle for these times, as this group of largely immigrant workers are rising up against two billionaire owners, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are major supporters of the Trump agenda.

“We want to get the Culinary Union benefits for myself and my family!” said Juan Sanchez, a bar porter at the Palms for 8 years. “The Union’s health benefits are the best in Las Vegas. There’s no monthly premium, virtually no co-pays and no deductible, and there is even a health center! There is no reason we shouldn’t have the same benefits like 60,000 other casino workers in the city.  

A super-majority of Station Casinos workers had signed a public petition asking that they be able to decide whether to unionize without management interference or intimidation. The company has ignored their demand even after a 7-day fast by a dozen workers and numerous rallies, marches, and picketing actions. 

Starting in 2016, Station Casinos workers decided to use the new and improved union election rules established under the Obama administration to win in spite of continued anti-union campaigning by the company. Workers have voted in six union elections so far and have won the union six times:

“I am so happy to become part of the union,” said Sonia Garcia, a guest room attendant at the Palms for 12 years. “Station Casinos always told us that they would respect a secret-ballot vote and so a majority of us voted YES! Yes, we can! Yes, we did! It’s time for Station Casinos to stop treating us like second-class workers!” 

“This is everything that we have been fighting for over the last four years,” said Melissa Zamarron, a food server who has worked at the Palms for 17 years. “I’m excited to join negotiations with the workers from Boulder, Palace, and Green Valley Ranch. I voted YES because I want to be able to take care of my family with the Union health plan.”  

The company is now refusing to recognize workers’ overwhelming choice in the Green Valley Ranch and Palms elections. It has chosen to engage in a time-consuming, multi-stage appeal process. Nevertheless, the workers at these two properties are agitating for the company to respect their votes so they can join Boulder and Palace Station workers at the negotiation table to work out a fair contract.

Station Casinos has said many times that they would respect their employees’ right to hold an NLRB election:

“The company lied to us,” said Eduardo Truebas Martinez, a cook at the Palms A.Y.C.E. Buffet. “Station Casinos always said that if we held a union election that they would respect our votes. We voted to unionize because we want the same standard as Strip workers – fair wages, job security, good health benefits. It’s time for the company to do the right thing and negotiate.” 

There are six other Station casinos where workers continue to organize and fight. They, along, with the workers at Boulder, Palace, Green Valley Ranch, and Palms, will not stop fighting until they have won what got them started organizing in the first place: respect and dignity for the job, and fair working conditions that allow them to provide for their families. 

[1] https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/majority-of-boulder-station-employees-vote-for-union-representation/

[2] https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/mar/14/deal-sets-stage-for-palace-station-workers-unioniz/

[3] https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/nov/10/green-valley-ranch-workers-vote-to-join-union/

[4] https://lasvegassun.com/news/2018/apr/29/the-palms-casino-hotel-votes-to-unionize/

[5] https://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/sunset-station-employees-vote-for-culinary-union-to-represent-them-1687591/

[6] https://knpr.org/headline/2019-06/workers-fiesta-rancho-vote-unionize