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Chris Sieroty

Culinary cancels protests at Cosmopolitan for rest of October

22 October 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The city’s largest and most powerful hospitality union had planned to protest weekly in front of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in an effort to gain a contract with the luxury hotel. But, after several members of the Culinary Union were caught on video verbally abusing Strip visitors, those protests were put on hold for the rest of the month.

On video, some Culinary members are seen calling tourists “scabs,” “beached whales,” and “losers for visiting the Cosmopolitan.”

Negotiations have been stalled between the Culinary, which represents some 55,000 bartenders, maids and food servers, and the Cosmopolitan.

Both parties have been unable to agree on job security, health care and wages. The Culinary is also seeking a successorship clause, also known as a guarantee, that the union contract would carry over if Deutsche Bank sold the resort.

In a statement Monday, The Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs, a workplace advocate group and project of the Workforce Fairness Institute, said the cancellations would save taxpayers an estimated $20,800 and “put regular police back on the streets where they belong.”

The Las Vegas-based group said the weekly protests on the Strip costs an average $2,600. After four protests, the costs was $10,400.

“If these protests were to continue for a year, they would cost the taxpayers of Las Vegas over a half million dollars in estimated police costs,” said Ron Futrell, spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs. “The fact Clark County taxpayers are stuck with a bill just so union bosses can shout obscenities at tourists through a bullhorn is absolutely ridiculous.”

The Culinary said Monday the protests were about securing “good jobs.” Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director, said the “next action is planned for Nov. 1” in front of the Cosmopolitan.

“Cosmopolitan workers have fought for the last two yeas to have a contract,” Cancela said in an email. “Nothing is going to stop them from securing the Las Vegas dream, certainly not a few letters and leaflets. We’re thankful for the attention that has been drawn to their struggle.”