Las Vegas hospitality workers’ strike poised to derail F1 race

Las Vegas hospitality workers’ strike poised to derail F1 race

Tens of thousands of Las Vegas hospitality workers are set to go on strike this Friday, which could derail the Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled to take place later this month.

The Culinary and Bartenders Union said 35,000 of its members at 18 properties would go on strike if a deal is not reached with the casinos, hotels and restaurants that employ them.

A union spokesperson said workers currently receive health insurance and earn about $26 an hour, but declined to say how much the union is seeking in pay raises, The Associated Press reported.

The union said it is asking for “the largest wage increases ever negotiated” in its history.

Hotel workers are also asking for better job security amid advancements in technology, as well as stronger security protections, including more safety buttons.

The union said contracts for about 40,000 of its 60,000 members have expired, with some still working on the expired contracts as negotiations continue.

The walk-out by Nevada’s largest labour union would be the first time hospitality workers have gone on strike in Las Vegas in decades and could be the biggest hospitality worker strike ever in US history.

It comes as the city is being transformed into a giant racetrack ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, set to begin on 16 November.

The event is expected to bring thousands of tourists to the city, but it may be derailed after the Culinary Union asked race attendees not to cross any picket lines and to refrain from visiting hotels and casinos where there is a labour dispute.

The union said it has been negotiating with MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts for the past seven months but they have been unable to agree on a deal that would lead to the strike being called off.

Members of the Culinary Workers Union rally along the Strip (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Members of the Culinary Workers Union rally along the Strip (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“Their current proposal on the table is historic, but it’s not enough and workers deserve to have record contracts – especially after these giant corporations are enjoying their record profits,” Culinary Union secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Michael Weaver, chief communications and marketing officer for Wynn Resorts, told NPR the company “will save our comments regarding negotiations for the bargaining table”.

The Independent has contacted MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment for comment.

Formula 1 announced last year that it would be holding a Las Vegas race in addition to its races in Miami and Austin as the sport continues to grow in popularity across the US.

The last time races were held in Las Vegas was in 1981 and 1982, with this marking the first time in four decades that a Formula 1 Grand Prix has been held in the city.

This year’s track will also be the first one to incorporate the city’s iconic Strip, with the circuit passing landmarks such as Caesars Palace, the Bellagio and the Venetian.

While some have supported the potential boost to the local economy that the race will bring, the addition of theGrand Prix to the city has been a point of disagreement after Formula 1 added visual barriers to pedestrian walkways for safety reasons.

The barriers were torn down by annoyed residents who complained about both construction-related traffic jams and trees being chopped down at the Bellagio.

There have been several workers’ strikes across the US in recent months, including UPS workers, autoworkers in Detroit and actors in Hollywood.

Last month, a group of hotel workers from the Culinary and Bartenders Union were arrested after halting rush hour traffic in the Las Vegas Strip during a protest over working conditions.

Casino workers in Michigan, including employees of the MGM Grand Detroit, were also on strike last month.