LAS VEGAS >> Thousands of unionized workers at Las Vegas casino-resorts operated by MGM Resorts International, including Bellagio, Aria and Mandalay Bay, approved a new five-year contract today.
The contract includes wage increases, new paid bereavement leave and stronger protections against sexual harassment for 24,000 bartenders, housekeepers, food servers and other members of the Culinary Union.
Thousands of workers last month, including employees of MGM — one of the largest resort operators in the tourist destination — authorized a strike over the lack of progress in contract negotiations covering 50,000 union members. The union later reached a tentative agreement with operator Caesars Entertainment and a separate deal with MGM.
Both deals include wage increases in each of the five years; a requirement to give all housekeepers wireless devices to alert security in the event of a threat; and language that protects the workers’ rights if a property is sold. The contracts for the first time include a three-day paid leave in the event of the death of an immediate relative.
Francis Garcia, a native of Honduras, has been a housekeeper at the MGM Grand for 11 years. She said she voted to approve the contract because it includes protections for immigrants like her who are allowed to live and work in the U.S. under temporary protective status, or TPS, as well as beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“Money is important, but it’s not only about that,” Garcia said. “For me that I have TPS, immigration is like the best part. It is hard because people see the TPS and DACA people as a number. We are not a number. I am a mother. Seeing that my union is taking care of that part, I am very proud of them.”
The Trump administration has sought to end DACA, but court orders have kept the program open. It also has announced it will terminate the special protections of thousands of immigrants from several countries who hold TPS.
The contracts provide that workers who lose their work permit and are later able to readjust their immigration status will be able to get back their casino jobs and seniority.
A permanent deal with the union will ensure that a walkout does not affect MGM’s Strip properties: Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York, Mandalay Bay, including the Delano, and Park MGM.
The workers, many wearing uniforms, cast paper ballots today at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
Bellagio housekeeper Lupe Avelar said she was happy to see that MGM agreed to an independent study, paid jointly with the union, to analyze the workload of housekeepers. The union had argued that hotel rooms have changed significantly, in size and amenities, since 2002, when the last study was conducted.
Caesars’ workers ratified their new contract last week.
Despite the MGM and Caesars’ contracts, there are still 14,000 workers in Las Vegas working with expired contracts who could still strike. The union on Wednesday is meeting with one of those facilities, the operator of the Stratosphere.