Culinary votes; talks continue; Las Vegas waits


Excuse Debra Jeffries if she has a case of deja vu. She's a Culinary Union vet who has worked at Bally's for 38 years as a cocktail server.

She was on the picket line the last time the Culinary Union staged a city-wide strike 34 years ago, in 1984.

“Actually, I took my son to that picket line one time,” Jeffries told News 3, adding that in 1984, “it was a battle. It was a real battle.”

“Had I not participated in that strike I wouldn't be around to talk about it today because I really needed that health care,” she says.

Preserving their benefits: it's one reason 25,000 workers, according to the union, voted Tuesday to authorize a strike.

It okays a walkout if a deal isn't done by midnight June 1.

RELATED | Tuesday's vote: Culinary's shot across gaming's bow

Of the 34 resorts at the table, MGM resorts has the most with 10.

"A vote such as this is an expected part of the process," said a spokesperson for the company Wednesday. "We are confident that we can resolve the outstanding contract issues and will come to an agreement that works for all sides. In fact, MGM resorts and the Culinary and Bartenders Union have scheduled talks for this week and next."

And that's the takeaway: Both sides are still talking, says UNLV's Michael Green.

"Both sides know they have too much to lose by having a strike," Green said.

The 1984 strike cost resorts about $100 million, according to University of Hawaii professor James Kraft, who said the economic fallout spread much farther. He wrote about the 1984 strike in his book "Vegas at Odds."

“There's also what it meant for the city's ability to collect revenue. There's the impact on small businesses such as photo shops, souvenir stands, restaurants.” Kraft says. “I will quote Jackie Gaughan [the late owner of the El Cortez and other casinos], whose properties lost about $2 million in the strike. He said this was a loss to everybody – the unions lost, the operators lost and the people got killed.”

Now, 34 years later, bigger money is at stake in a bigger Las Vegas if any of our 42 million visitors stay away.

"Every visitor that gets in a car, gets in a plane, generates about $800 worth of spending," says Jeremy Aguero, the principal of Applied Analysis.

The 34 affected resorts include properties both on the Strip and Downtown. Caesars Entertainment, which brings eight resorts to the bargaining table, tells News 3 it is optimistic a deal will be reached by June 1.

The Culinary Union, in the meantime, says it is actively preparing for a walkout.

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