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Howard Stutz

Culinary rally coincides with opening of Downtown Summerlin

8 October 2014

LAS VEGAS -- The Culinary union has scheduled a march and rally through the streets of Summerlin against Station Casinos, Inc. for Thursday afternoon — the same time as the highly anticipated opening of Downtown Summerlin.

The union, which claims a long-standing labor dispute with Station Casinos over organizing more than 5,000 nongaming employees of the company’s workforce, plans to march from Palo Verde High School on Pavilion Center Drive to Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa on Charleston Boulevard, which is also home to Station Casinos’ corporate headquarters.

Culinary Local 226 spokeswoman Bethany Khan said it was “just a coincidence” the union rally was taking place Thursday, which is the grand opening celebration for the 1.6 million-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

The Red Rock Resort is adjacent to Downtown Summerlin and part of the property’s recent $35 million expansion was to connect the hotel-casino with the complex.

Khan initially said Tuesday she “wasn’t aware” the opening of Downtown Summerlin was taking place. She then said the date and 5 p.m. time for march and rally was chosen because it “worked out for Red Rock employees, our members and clergy that are attending the rally.”

Khan said “it’s not like we’re protesting the event. It’s because the labor dispute in Las Vegas with Station Casinos is escalating.”

Station Casinos spokeswoman Lori Nelson, in an email, called the union’s rally “a staged protest.”

“Let’s be clear, there is no major labor dispute taking place,” Nelson said. “This so-called ‘dispute’ is only about the Culinary union’s desperate quest, clearly at any cost to any business in town, to increase their membership dues. The Culinary union has a long history of hurting innocent victims in their desperate attempt to organize.”

In September, the union warned The Howard Hughes Corp., developers of Downtown Summerlin, of planned activities against Station Casinos and highlighted the project’s Thursday opening.

“We strongly urge you to call on Station Casinos to ensure that a high-profile and contentious labor dispute at Summerlin’s Red Rock Casino Resort &Spa does not mar Summerlin’s bright future,” Culinary research specialist Meredith Schafer wrote in a Sept. 2 letter to Howard Hughes CEO David Weinreb.

Howard Hughes spokesman Tom Warden declined to comment about the union’s planned rally, saying Downtown Summerlin had scheduled grand opening events throughout Thursday, starting at 10 a.m., and into the weekend.

“We’re expecting thousands of people all weekend,” Warden said. “Thursday is the official grand opening, but there have been individual tenant events during the week.”

Warden said the construction of Downtown Summerlin — which sat unfinished for some six years as a symbol of the devastated Las Vegas economy — employed 2,000 workers, “a majority of them union,” during the primary construction process. The mall’s 111 tenants have hired 2,500 workers.

Nelson said the union membership “should be embarrassed that its leadership is trying to take away from Downtown Summerlin’s debut to the community.” She credited the developer with having invested “hundreds of millions of dollars to create a stunning shopping destination and (creating) more than 2,000 jobs for our community.”

The Culinary has called Station Casinos “the worst labor law violator in the history of the Nevada gaming industry.” The company was hit with 88 violations of employee rights by National Labor Relations Board administrative law judges.

The union, including Bartenders Local 165, wants to have employees vote on representation via a card check. Station Casinos officials have said they are willing to allow a secret-ballot vote.

Khan said the union is planning monthly events against Station Casinos and stepped up the attention on the company since settling new five-year contracts with Strip and downtown casinos over the summer.

In August, the union held a similar rally in front the company’s Boulder Station on Boulder Highway.

The union said Thursday’s march would include “live performances” along the route and end with a rally on Charleston Boulevard in front of Red Rock Resort.
Culinary rally coincides with opening of Downtown Summerlin is republished from