In March, Station Casinos agreed to a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which made Palace Station its second hotel-casino in Las Vegas to be unionized, with its workers now represented by the Culinary and Bartenders Unions. In addition, the company agreed to reimburse workers at the first organized site, Boulder Station, whom Station Casinos unfairly denied lower healthcare costs after workers voted to unionize last September. The settlement agreement comes after the unions requested that the NLRB investigate alleged illegal behavior by Palace Station leading up to a union election in October 2016, in which the unions fell four votes short of winning.
Station Casinos announced a few hours after the Boulder election in September, which the union won in a landslide, that the company was going to lower monthly healthcare premiums for every casino property in Las Vegas, except for newly unionized Boulder Station workers. One month later, shortly after the unions filed for an election at Palace Station, the company notified non-unionized workers that their lower premium rate would remain throughout 2017. The company also granted other valuable benefits to workers at Palace Station as they faced their choice to unionize, pleading with workers to give management “a chance” to improve working conditions without a union.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the NLRB stipulate that tactics like these violate the National Labor Relations Act. After investigating charges of unfair labor practices filed by the unions, the Regional Director of the Las Vegas Region of the NLRB indicated that he would seek an order requiring Station Casinos to correct the alleged violations and bargain with Palace Station workers. Station Casinos has now agreed to settle the charges, and recognize Palace Station as union. It also agreed to make whole Boulder Station employees for the difference in health plan premium payments.
The unions and Boulder Station workers’ negotiation committee have been in contract talks with Boulder Station since December, and Palace Station workers will soon join in bargaining.
Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, said of the union’s efforts, “We commend the Palace Station workers for their courage and resilience in the face of the company’s massive anti-union campaign. We look forward to starting contract negotiations so that workers can have fair wages, job security, and good health benefits.”
Palace Station is the flagship of the Station Casinos, a chain founded and owned by the Fertitta family. The Fertittas have fought unionization for decades, so this ruling represents a big blow to anti-union forces in Nevada, a “right-to-work (for nothing)” state.