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Gaming Guru

Alana Roberts
 

Engineers Likely to Strike

14 December 2004

About 320 maintenance workers at three Mandalay Resort Group properties, represented by the Operating Engineers Local 501, are expected this week to reject a company contract offer that is similar to one the workers rejected in July.

"I wholly expect it to be overwhelmingly rejected and we're going to be looking at a Christmastime strike," George Scott, the union's business representative, said about the company's offer. The members perform maintenance functions at the Mandalay Resort Group propertes the Luxor, Circus Circus and Excalibur.

The two-tier wage proposal made recently by Mandalay Resort Group starts new workers at $2.50 an hour less than the $21.69 an hour the properties' journeymen will make in the first year of the contract, Scott said. Under the proposed contract both the current and new workers will get an 85-cent wage and benefit increase each year of the five-year contract.

The members will vote on Mandalay Resort Group's contract proposal in person on Thursday and Friday at the Riviera.

Scott said he thinks the proposal, which was reached with the help of a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, is the company's final offer.

Mike Sloan, Mandalay senior vice president, declined to comment on the negotiations.

"We're not going to discuss the status of our labor negotiations while we're still in the process," Sloan said.

The company previously offered a contract proposal starting new workers at $3 an hour less than current journeymen workers who make $21 an hour.

The members have been working under an indefinite contract extension since late March, when their previous contract expired. The workers voted to authorize the union's leaders to strike in September if the company doesn't rescind the two-tier proposal.

The union must give Mandalay Resort Group written notice of a strike five days in advance. Mandalay must also give the union written notice if the casino operator decides to lock out the Operating Engineers.

The company's nonunion maintenance workers at Monte Carlo and Mandalay Bay make about $7 an hour more in wages, a number that shrinks to 50 cents when the cost of the union's more generous benefits are included, Scott said.

He said Mandalay's offer would, if accepted, anger competing casino operators with existing union contracts reached this year. Strip properties that have accepted the union's agreement this year include Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Las Vegas Hilton, Riviera, Bally's, Harrah's, Sahara, Tropicana, New Frontier and the Jockey Club. Those properties accepted a $4.30 hourly increase in wages and benefits over the five-year life of the contract--deals without a two-tier wage structure.

"What this offer does is it totally put us in a situation where we would be unable to organize any additional workers on the Strip," Scott said. "Then everybody else on the Strip that we've agreed to current contracts with--they're not going to be happy with us when we give their competitor a lesser contract." Meantime, negotiations on a separate deal with MGM Grand continue, Scott and Yvette Monet, an MGM Mirage spokeswoman confirmed.