More Pay, Greater Security

One group is celebrating potent gains. After threatening to strike, tens of thousands of people represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 secured a contract settlement that includes raises of 32 percent over the next five years.

Union workers played a critical role in turning out voters for Mr. Biden four years ago, and their greater pay could motivate them to repeat that effort. And given the importance of their wages in fueling local spending, the new contracts are themselves a source of economic vibrancy.

Kimberly Dopler has worked as a cocktail waitress at Wynn’s Las Vegas for nearly 20 years. The job is physically exhausting and fraught with the pitfalls of tending to customers who are “drinking and gambling, and not in their right state of mind,” she said. Yet she navigates those risks for the resulting security.

“I get to go home with money in my pocket every day, and I can take my shoes off and relax,” she said.

The union contract has enhanced her sense that the economy is strong. “I see a lot of hiring happening at my job, hiring events throughout town,” Ms. Dopler said. “I feel like people have a good opportunity in this town to find work.”

Raymond Lujan, 61, a union steward and waiter at Edge Steakhouse, a restaurant inside the Westgate Las Vegas, was born and raised in the city. His mother worked as a cocktail waitress at the Stardust. His brother is a bellman at the Bellagio.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Lujan had never been out of work. When the restaurant where he worked closed, he drew on savings, but many of his co-workers live check to check.

He remains confident in a future centered on the hospitality industry.

“This is Vegas,” he said. “It’s still the destination capital of the world.”

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