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Arnold M. Knightly

Wynn Las Vegas, dealers close to union contract

15 March 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Dealers and Wynn Las Vegas are getting closer to an agreement on a union contract, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

The filing by Wynn Las Vegas said the hotel-casino and Las Vegas Dealers Local 721 have reached agreement on all issues except the duration of a contract.

Union director Joseph Carbon said the two sides are only "two or three years apart" on the length of the contract. He cautioned, however, that some of the dealers are unhappy with some of the language about tips. He did not provide details on what the contract proposal says about the hotel-casino's tip policy.

"Not everybody's always happy, especially with the first contract," Carbon said. "It's groundbreaking and I think people have to understand that."

The resort's dealers would have to ratify a final agreement before the union contract could take effect.

Wynn Las Vegas attorney Gregory Kamer declined comment beyond the federal filing.

Although many hotel-casino workers are unionized, unions have long had trouble organizing dealers.

The Transport Workers Union of America, of which Las Vegas Dealers Local 721 is a division, last tried to organize dealers at 11 casinos in 2001 but was largely unsuccessful.

Dealers at the Tropicana, Stratosphere and the now-demolished New Frontier approved union representation, although the only contract that was ever signed covered just 105 dealers at the New Frontier.

The dealers at Wynn Las Vegas voted 3-to-1 in favor of a union in May 2007, eight months after the hotel-casino changed its tip policy so certain table-game supervisors could begin receiving a share of the dealers' tip pool.

The dealers at Caesars Palace also voted for a union in late 2007, but negotiations broke down in December.

The news of progress in the union contract talks at the Wynn came on the same day that attorneys for the dealers were granted an additional week to file briefs in the dealers' complaint against the hotel-casino's tip-pooling policy.

Wynn dealers are asking Nevada Labor Commissioner Michael Tanchek to find that the hotel-casino's tip policy violates state labor laws. They are asking him to award about 500 dealers $35 million in back pay and penalties.

Attorneys for Wynn have maintained that the tip policy complies with state laws and is comparable to a restaurant sharing tips between busboys, bartenders and waiters.

The dealer's attorneys have until March 22 to file briefs in the tip-pooling case.

If the briefs are filed by March 22, attorneys for both sides will have until April 19 to respond.

Tanchek is expected to rule on the case by the end of May.

A ruling was initially planned for January, but in December, Tanchek pushed the date to April because he needed more time than expected to review 55 hours of testimony from the hearing.

Attorneys for both sides have said any decision by Tanchek will likely be appealed, probably to Clark County District Court, where dealers first challenged the policy in 2006.