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Alana Roberts

Engineers' Strike Still Possible at Mandalay Properties

8 November 2004

The possibility of a strike remains for about 320 members of the Operating Engineers Local 501 who work at three Mandalay Resort Group properties as the union's leaders continue to try to hammer out a contract agreement with the casino operator.

The union and the company have a negotiation session set for today with a federal mediator. It is the third session since members of the union gave the union's leaders the go-ahead to strike in late September, George Scott, the union's business representative, said.

The union's members rejected Mandalay Resort Group's two-tier wage proposal in a vote July 7-8. The members perform maintenance functions at the Luxor, Circus Circus and Excalibur.

Scott said the union requested the help of a federal mediator to help broker a deal because the parties remain at odds over the company's two-tier wage proposal. The union wants the company to rescind the proposal that will force new hires to make $3 less than the $21 an hour the company's journeymen currently make.

Under the two-tier proposal, the union's current members would be eligible for the union's Strip agreement that offers a $4.30 hourly increase in wages and benefits over the life of the five-year contract. The package would result in the workers making $25.30 in hourly wages and benefits by the end of the contract.

Scott said the company is paying its nonunion members 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.

"If they had been doing this at their other locations then there would be some validity to their request for us to seriously look at it. We don't see any justification for it, but their position remained the same. That is when we decided that we (need to) bring in federal mediators to see if they can facilitate a resolution," Scott said.

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

The Strip contract expired on March 31 and other properties began approving the contract in May. Mandalay Resort Group and the union agreed on an indefinite contract extension on March 30 that can be revoked only if one of the sides gives the other five days notice in writing that they plan either a strike or a lock out.

Other properties that have accepted the union's Strip agreement this year include Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Las Vegas Hilton, Riviera, Bally's, Harrah's, Sahara, Tropicana, the New Frontier and the Jockey Club.

Scott said the union began negotiations with the MGM Grand in October.

The contract for members of the Operating Engineers at the MGM Grand expires at the end of this month. MGM Grand-parent MGM Mirage's $7.9 billion acquisition of Mandalay Resort Group is awaiting federal and state antitrust approvals.

The union represents about 136 workers at the MGM Grand. MGM Mirage spokeswoman Yvette Monet said the negotiations with the Operating Engineers at MGM Grand are unrelated to negotiations at the three Mandalay Resort Group properties. She also said it is too early in the negotiation process to anticipate any difficulties in bargaining with the union.

Scott said the union can't accept Mandalay Resort Group's proposal because the non-Mandalay union properties have already accepted the Strip proposal, and it wouldn't be fair to those properties to give Mandalay a better deal.

"We want to avoid a strike. It takes two to dance and two to fight. We're trying to work toward a settlement and they're not moving," Scott said.

Engineers' Strike Still Possible at Mandalay Properties is republished from