Feb 12, 2016 - 11:00am

Culinary Workers Union Spurs Desert Dust-Up

Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

The Las Vegas-based Culinary Workers Union Local 226, perhaps the most aggressive in the state, is launching a massive street theater protest today in an event that it boasts is expected to lead to mass arrests. Using a dispute with local authorities over where the protests are allowed to take place as a smokescreen, the union’s goal is to create pressure on Station Casinos to agree to concessions that undermine employee rights when it comes to deciding whether to form a union.

Station Casinos has already said that its workers are free to vote on whether to unionize via secret ballot whenever they wish. But the Culinary Workers Union isn’t after an actual vote. It prefers card check, a process under which workers’ “votes” would be public and the union officials would know exactly who did, or did not, support them.

In light of the union’s recent track record, this is hardly in the best interests of workers. In a notable – and unfortunate – incident at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas in 2013, union associates stood outside the casino and hurled insults like “beached whales,” “pieces of trash,” and “fat pigs,” at customers going in and out. That fury was aimed at discouraging convention business at employers that the Culinary Workers Union dislikes.

If the union doesn’t think twice about harassing customers on the sidewalk, one can only imagine the pressure that organizers would put on individual workers under a “card check” campaign.

The Culinary Workers Union claims that its street theater protests today will be nonviolent, and hopefully that holds true. At the end of the day, the union should come clean that the goal of these events is really to rig the union organizing process. Talk about dealing workers a bad hand.

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About the Author

Glenn Spencer Headshot
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.