Culinary Union concludes an historic 48-hour strike of Virgin Las Vegas



Monday, May 13, 2024


Bethany Khan: ▪ (702) 387-7088 

Culinary Union concludes historic 48-hour strike of Virgin Las Vegas

Virgin Las Vegas ON STRIKE - Day 2: BROLL / PHOTOS

Las Vegas, NV - For the first time in over 22 years, the Culinary and Bartenders Unions led 700+ hospitality workers in a strike as they continue to push for a new 5-year union contract at Virgin Las Vegas. A planned 48-hour strike at Virgin Las Vegas began Friday, May 10th at 5:00am and has now ended. Hospitality workers are reporting to their normally scheduled shifts on the property after 5:00am on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12th. Main table negotiations with Virgin Las Vegas are scheduled to take place Tuesday, May 14.

“I’m so proud of the workers who came out on strike and held the line,” said Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “With this 48-hour strike, Virgin Las Vegas workers sent a strong message that this company needs to do the right thing for their employees and our community. Negotiations are Tuesday, May 14th and so the Culinary Union calls on Virgin Las Vegas to stop treating their workers as second-class, respect them, and agree that they are worth more than zero. Every casino on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas has already settled a fair contract and it’s time for Virgin Las Vegas to do the right thing.”

The Culinary and Bartenders Unions maintained a 24/7 strike over 48-hours which impacted all major areas of operations at Virgin Las Vegas, including housekeeping, food and beverage departments, and the following unionized restaurants: Casa Calavera, Funny Library Coffee Shop, Juice Bar, The Bar at Commons Club, The Kitchen at Commons Club, and The Shag Room. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (“Virgin Las Vegas”) is owned by JC Hospitality, LLC, in partnership with Juniper Capital Partners LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, Fengate Asset Management of Toronto, and the LiUNA Pension Fund of Easter and Central Canada.

“When we first walked out it was scary, but with this strike, I feel like we’ve done something important,” said Pamela Holmes, a barista at Virgin Las Vegas and Culinary Union member for 15 years. “We are more worth than zero and I hope the company sees how serious we are with this 48-hour strike. We need to get a contract signed soon and I hope the company listens to us on Tuesday when we go back to main table negotiations.” 

For weeks leading up the strike, the Culinary Union contacted locals, customers, investors, company board members and partners, regulators, and community allies about the increasing labor dispute at Virgin Las Vegas. According to local reporting, Virgin Las Vegas was not accepting bookings for hotel rooms via its website reservation portal for the two days of the strike, May 10-11.

“After 48-hours of striking, I’m very proud of everyone who showed up. All of my co-workers out on the picket line showed our worth while the company was in there trying to run the casino bare bones,” said Alain Lopez, a food server at Virgin Las Vegas and Culinary Union member for 3 years. “We all have a story and we are fighting for the same thing - a better future and that’s what I’m doing. I work with a lot of folks who remind me of my family back home - housekeepers, dishwashers, bartenders, and I’m fighting for everyone, not just myself. Going on strike was scary at first, but we have to fight for what we want and show the company that we are not joking.” 

Last year, members of the Culinary and Bartenders Unions voted to authorize a Citywide Strike after tens of thousands of hospitality workers packed the Thomas and Mack Center in September 2023 to cast their votes. Contracts for over 50,000 workers have since been settled and workers have won the best contract ever. Contract negotiations for one casino property remains: The Virgin Las Vegas, where the contract expired June 1, 2023. Initially, the casino was given a strike deadline extension of February 2nd, another extension to March 9th, and ultimately a 48-hour strike was called for from May 10th at 5:00am to May 12th at 4:59am. 

In negotiations, the Culinary and Bartenders Unions have been winning historic victories for workers including:

*Securing the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the Culinary Union’s 89-year-history. The total compensation won by the Culinary Union for over 50,000 is approximately $3 billion over the total five-year contract. Every worker will be getting a 10% wage increase in the first year and a total of 32% in raises over the life of the new contract. The average Culinary Union member earned about $28 an hour (including their benefits) under the previous contract, and by the end of this new five-year contract, the average Culinary Union member will be earning about $37 an hour (including their benefits).

*Reducing workload and steep housekeeping room quotas, daily room cleaning, and establishing the right for guest room attendants to securely work in set areas.

*Providing the best on-the-job safety protections for all classifications, including safety committees, expanding the use of safety buttons to more workers, penalties if safety buttons don’t work, enforcing mandatory room checks for employee and public safety, and tracking sexual harassment, assault, and criminal behavior by customers.

*Strengthens existing technology protections to guarantee advanced notification when new technology is introduced (which would impact jobs) including technologies with artificial intelligence, increases service recognition pay and extended health care and pension fund contributions for workers who are laid off because of new technology, requires training for new jobs created by technology, introduces the right to bargain over technology that tracks the location of employees, requires notification and opportunity to bargain regarding data sharing, and establishes right to compensation for tipped employees if necessary infrastructure for technology fails resulting in a tipped employee who is unable to do their job.

*Extending recall rights so that workers have more job security and have the right to return to their jobs in the event of another pandemic or economic crisis for up to three-years.

*Making clear at MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment properties that the no-strike clause does not prevent the Culinary Union and its members from taking action, including picketing and leafleting in support of non-union restaurants at the Casinos; and allows non-union restaurant workers to leaflet in front of their venues inside the casino. At Wynn Resorts, making clear that the no-strike clause does not prevent the Culinary Union from taking action, including strikes, against non-union restaurants on the casino property, and gives casino workers the right to respect picket lines. 

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 is the largest labor union in Nevada, and alongside the Bartenders Union Local 165, represents 60,000 guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry, and kitchen workers statewide.  


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members, and their dependents.  

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest Latinx/Black/AAPI/immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project.  

The Culinary Union has a diverse membership which is 55% women and 60% immigrants. The demographics of Culinary Union members are approximately: 54% Latinx, 18% white, 15% Asian, 12% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples. 

Culinary Union members work as: Guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry, and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting and winning for working families in Nevada for 89 years. / @Culinary226 


More News

Get Connected