Culinary Union workers protest in front of Palace Station amid ongoing conflict over union contract

Hospitality workers and community supporters are set to picket for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began in front of Palace Station on Friday, from 5 pm to 7 pm. The picketing comes as Station Casinos workers “continue to fight for a first-time union contract,” according to a press release announcing the demonstration.

According to Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which is regulating the picketing, “hundreds” of workers are set to join the protest, which will include Ted Pappageorge, President of Culinary Union; Diana Valles, Organizing Director for the Colinary Union; and Susie Martinez, Nevada State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer.

The Culinary Union alleges Station Casinos interfered with union elections held in October 2016, when workers of Palace Station participated in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. Palace recognized the union after complaints were filed by the Culinary Union of illegal behavior and conduct committed by the company and its managers.

According to the Culinary Union, the company attempted “to sway the democratic union election” and, since then, The union has alleged Palace Station illegally interfered with and unlawfully withdrew recognition from the union in 2020 “without the workers having an election and voting to do so.”

Station Casinos is currently on trial as the federal government is prosecuting a civil case against the company before the NLRB. The NLRB’s General Counsel alleges Station Casinos engaged “in a scheme to use the pandemic to weaken union support” and that it is illegal withdrew recognition from the union at Palace Station and Boulder Station, according to the Culinary Union.

The National Labor Relations Board also accuses the casino operator of using an offer of enhanced employee benefits to sway support away from the union in the run-up to a December 2019 election at Red Rock Resort, in which the vote ultimately failed.

In July 2021, the United States District Court in Nevada ordered an injunction against Station Casinos’ Red Rock Casino for its alleged misconduct during the 2019 NLRB union election. The federal court imposed a bargaining order against Red Rock Casino, which mandates the company to recognize the Culinary and Bartenders Unions as the official bargaining representatives and begin negotiations for a first union contract.

In November, a panel of judges on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the July orderwhich requires the company to bargain in good faith with the unions until a federal labor board makes a ruling on the dispute.

The appeals court judges said that granting benefits “was likely an unlawful labor practice,” which likely changed how employees voted over fears of losing said benefits. “Here, new employee benefits were announced just days before the union election, and there was extensive evidence that those benefits were designed to discourage union support,” the judges’ ruling said.

On Wednesday, Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos, held a conference call with investors to discuss the fourth-quarter earnings, in which officials were asked about a potential reopening of three casino resorts -Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station- which have remained closed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a very similar answer we’ve given in past quarters,” responded Stephen Cootey, Red Rock Resorts’ senior vice president and chief financial officer, according to KSNV. “We’re continuing to evaluate the potential reopenings on a regular basis. And I think we’ve made it clear that We’re only going to reopen these properties if we’re confident we can deliver incremental value to the overall portfolio.”

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