Many businesses in all industries aren’t exactly fans of worker unions. They try to make them all appear like Jimmy Hoffa-esque organizations that are only self-serving, but unions often play a vital role in ensuring employees are treated fairly. Station Casinos has never been supportive of unionization efforts and, on more than one occasion, has refused to recognize employee-approved initiatives to join a union. When employees at the Red Rock Resort on the Las Vegas Strip were discussing the possibility of joining the Culinary Union in December 2019, Station Casino brass stepped in. While the casino operator managed to thwart the efforts, its victory was short-lived. A federal judge has now ordered Station Casinos to make peace with the Culinary Union and let it into Red Rock Resort.
The Unionization of Red Rock
Station Casinos, upon learning that the Culinary Union was possibly close to a deal with Red Rock’s non-gaming employees, suddenly launched a massive benefits campaign for the property’s employees. This resulted in the union being unable to find support from the employees, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) wasn’t impressed. It lodged a complaint over the actions, with US District Court Judge Gloria Navarro being given the case. According to The Nevada Independent, Judge Navarro issued her ruling this past Tuesday, creating a bargaining order and requiring Station Casinos to recognize the Culinary Union and its affiliated Bartenders Union as representatives of the property’s non-gaming employees.
Judge Navarro explained that the only reason Station Casinos implemented the benefits program was because of the unionization efforts, not for some altruistic employee welfare mission of the company. She adds that the initiatives were solely “intended to deter Red Rock employees’ exercise of their collective bargaining rights.” Station isn’t happy with the judge’s take on the matter, saying in a statement, “We firmly and respectfully disagree with the result, which overturns the clear vote of the Red Rock team members in their rejection of the Culinary Union. The decision punishes Red Rock team members and the Red Rock property because Station Casinos treated its team members too well.”
Culinary Union Happy With the Results
The Culinary Union, pointed out that it had never been awarded such an order in its 86-year history, was pleased with the outcome. Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline says the ruling is “extraordinary” and is ready to help the union further its efforts in “negotiating and winning a union contract to protect workers.” The ruling brings closure to efforts by the union that began 11 years ago, when it started discussing unionization possibilities with Station employees. Throughout its efforts, the casino operator tried to block union representatives from talking to employees and, according to rumors, had allegedly engaged in strong-arm tactics to convince workers to turn away.
As vindicated as union representatives may be, they can’t celebrate too much. It’s likely that Station Casinos will challenge the order or, at the very least, drag its feet in implementing the judge’s ruling. The operator added in its statement that it “does not believe it is correct or consistent with the purpose and stated mission of the National Labor Relations Act to punish Station Casinos and its team members for providing best-in-class benefits to team members based on a dubious theory that doing so ‘undermines’ the union.” Given its history of fighting unions and its willingness to ignore employee-approved bargaining agreements, it’s like Station Casinos will be ready to take this latest blow to the Supreme Court if necessary.