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Learning from Las Vegas: Unions and post-industrial urbanisation

Las Vegas is often portrayed as the apogee of postmodern urbanism, but we argue that you cannot understand Las Vegas without understanding the role of unions in the City’s political economy. By focusing on the social relations surrounding workplace, class, and gender we highlight alternative versions of Las Vegas’ history. The Culinary Union, a UNITE HERE local, has introduced new institutional forms and played an active role in the local growth coalition. They have set standards around work intensity, training, and job ladders. Highlighting the ability of the union to affect these issues contributes to a counter-narrative about the City which stresses the agency of labour to actively produce Las Vegas’ cultural and economic landscapes. The postmodern narrative about Las Vegas hides these important lessons. Learning from Las Vegas can transform issues of signs and symbolism to issues of union organising and institutional structures in the post-industrial economy.


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