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Arnold M. Knightly

Teacher's union to avoid Harrah's Hotels

28 August 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada –- One of the nation's largest teachers unions is pulling its business from Harrah's Entertainment in a show of solidarity with a sister dealers union in Atlantic City that is still without a contract.

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers, sent a letter dated Aug. 19 to Harrah's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Loveman stating that the union "will not conduct business with any Harrah's venue in the nation while you continue to stonewall in contract negotiations" with the United Auto Workers union at Bally's and Caesars Atlantic City.

The UAW and AFT are both affiliates of the AFL-CIO.

Although the teachers union is concentrated in the Northeast, the union is telling its planners to not book conventions and meetings at Harrah's properties across the country, naming Las Vegas in the letter.

"Las Vegas is another popular venue for our meetings," Weingarten said in the letter. "However, while this stalemate continues, we will be actively seeking alternative business relationships and facilities for upcoming conventions and meetings."

Harrah's Entertainment officials could not be reached for comment.

The UAW has been negotiating a first contract for 700 dealers and 22 slot technicians at Caesars for 19 months.

Management at Bally's has refused to bargain with the union regarding 960 dealers at Bally's and is appealing a federal labor board ruling that said the casino property must negotiate.

The UAW has held pickets at both properties.

"Your egregious treatment of employees engaged in the legally protected right to bargain collectively has consequences," Weingarten's letter said, referring to the boycott.

The letter ends: "We look forward to hearing of the fair resolution of a contract with the UAW Atlantic City dealers' union. Until that time, our policy is to take our meeting and convention business elsewhere."

Las Vegas Dealers Local 721, which is also an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is still negotiating for first contracts in Las Vegas at Wynn Las Vegas and Caesars Palace.

Wynn dealers voted for union representation in May 2007, and Caesars Palace dealers did he same in December 2007.

Those negotiations, however, were not discussed in Weingarten's letter.

Teachers in Clark County are represented by a division of the National Education Association.

Teacher's union to avoid Harrah's Hotels is republished from