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Union Bullying in Las Vegas

Culinary Workers Local is going after nonprofit groups doing business with non-union Station Casinos.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

May 18, 2012 - 12:00 am

A Las Vegas union known for attempting to bully organizations that do business with the non-union Station Casinos is now taking its fight to the nonprofit Tony Hawk Foundation, which builds skateparks in low-income areas to help at-risk youth.

On May 12, the Culinary Workers Union, Local  226 sent a letter, since obtained by PJ Media, to the foundation titled “RE: Tony Hawk Foundation Aligned with Troubling and Socially Irresponsible Organizations.”

The “socially irresponsible organizations”? The UFC and Red Rock Casino. The owners of UFC and Red Rock, which is one of several casions owned or managed by Station Casinos, are Frank Fertitta, III and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The union’s issue? Station Casinos is non-union.

In what has become a standard tactic, the union is attempting to damage Station Casinos and enhance their own visibility by picking public fights with organizations that do business with the Fertittas.

Tony Hawk Foundation Executive Director Miki Vuckovich told PJ Media that he was surprised by the letter but that his foundation was not involved in the fight between Station Casinos and the union:

When we received the letter we were surprised there was conflict. I really don’t know what to make of it. It causes us to have to explain this to our donors and board members.

He added that the foundation tries to stay out of such issues. “We stick to our work,” he said.

Victor Joecks,  the communications director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said this is nothing new for the union, which has been doing this sort of thing for years — including disrupting a catholic school fundraiser.

According to Joecks, the union has been trying (and failing) to unionize the workers at Fertitta properties. The letter reads:

On March 22, over 4,000 casino workers and supporters marched outside Red Rock. They came to support Station Casinos workers who, along with Las Vegas clergy leaders, delivered to Station Casinos executives a landmark petition signed by a majority of Station workers in the classifications represented by the Culinary and Bartenders unions in other hotel-casinos. What Station workers are asking for is simple and reasonable: in the petition, workers are asking the company for a fair process to decide whether to unionize that is free from bullying, intimidation, threats, and litigation.

Of course “card check” is anything but “free from bullying, intimidation, threats, and litigation.”

Joecks said this is par for the course for this particular union, which is affiliated with UNITE HERE and the AFL-CIO:

For years the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union has wanted to unionize Station Casino properties. Instead of having secret ballot elections, which Station has said they would not oppose, Culinary Union bosses want to take away secret ballots from all Station workers and organize using card check. Union bosses love organizing by card check, because it allows them to target, harass and intimidate workers into signing a piece of paper, instead of having to win a secret ballot election.

From protesting during a fundraiser for a local Catholic school to trying to intimidate the Tony Hawk Foundation, Culinary Union bosses show that their real interest is in power for themselves, even if it means disrupting events that are trying to raise money to help needy children.

You can see this attitude in their letter when the Culinary union boss Geoconda Arguello-Kline writes, “We expect a response from you within the next ten days.” It’s outrageous for a union boss to try and make an organization dedicated to serving underprivileged children a pawn in the union’s attempt to take away the secret ballot from workers.

PJM attempted to contact both Arguello-Kline and another union official referenced in the letter, Maya Homes, for comment, but calls were not returned.

It is possible, of course, that the list of offenses referenced in the letter — including spying on workers and wrongful termination — were committed by Station Casinos. It would be far from the first time employers overstepped their bounds.

However, that has nothing to do with the Tony Hawk Foundation and its work, nor with the Catholic school that held its fundraiser there. It appears to be just one more attempt by a union to force its agenda on an employer and employees who may not be interested.

If Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 is truly interested in the wishes of workers at Station Casinos, they should agree to a free, fair, and secret ballot, not attempt to bully organizations which are not involved.

Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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