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Best of Benjamin Spillman

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Benjamin Spillman
 

NLRB files complaint against Wynn Las Vegas

4 January 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint accusing developer Steve Wynn and six managers at Wynn Las Vegas of threatening workers with job losses and reduced income if they joined a union or protested changes to the way the casino distributes card dealers' tips.

The complaint, which is dated Dec. 28, is the latest development in a continuing dispute over Wynn's decision to use a portion of dealers' tips to give raises to casino managers.

Wynn executives say the change corrects a pay imbalance that had managers making less money than dealers they supervised. Dealers say the company shouldn't use dealer tip money to give raises to managers.

If an administrative law judge decides Wynn violated labor laws, it could cause trouble for the company with Nevada gaming regulators, who have the power to fine, or even shut down, casinos in the state.

Several dealers have complained of threats if they joined sidewalk protests in front of Wynn Las Vegas calling for a reversal of the tip policy that went into effect Sept. 1.

"There were enough witnesses that the charges stuck," said Jack Lipsman, a retired card dealer who helped organize the protests. "Now (Wynn) has to appear before a judge and answer the complaint."

A spokeswoman for Wynn Resorts Ltd. who last week said threat allegations were untrue did not return a call Wednesday to comment on the National Labor Relations Board Complaint.

Cynthia Fields, a roulette and blackjack dealer at the casino, made the allegations that led to the complaint. She was joined by craps dealer Tynesia Boone and blackjack and craps dealer Tramel McKenzie.

Fields said the problem started in a meeting between Wynn, company management and dealers to discuss the new tip policy.

That's where Fields said Wynn yelled at her, slammed his fist on the table and threatened the jobs of employees who protest or join a union.

"I was terrified when I went out of that meeting," Fields said. "I was doing everything I could to not cry."

The government investigated the allegations and gave Wynn a chance to respond, said Stephen Wamser, deputy regional attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

"If we are unable to settle the case, we will issue a complaint," Wamser said.

Wynn has until Jan. 11 to respond in writing to the complaint. And a hearing in Las Vegas before an administrative law judge from San Francisco is scheduled for Feb. 1.

If the judge agrees with the government, he could order a remedy. Wamser said it could include a posting in the casino.

And if Wynn is found to be violating labor laws, it could have repercussions with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, according to board chairman Dennis Neilander.

"That could be determined to be an unsuitable method of operation," Neilander said.