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Chris Sieroty

Wynn Resorts signs deal with dealers' union

12 November 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Wynn Resorts Ltd. has signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Transport Workers Union that covers dealers at the Wynn Las Vegas for the next 10 years, the company said Thursday.

The contract, which dealers overwhelmingly approved last month, puts an end to almost four years of negotiations between management and union representatives.

But what the 54-page contract didn't accomplish was the elimination of Wynn Resorts' controversial tip-sharing policy, which reduced dealers' tips by splitting a percentage with their supervisors.

"The management of Wynn Las Vegas is very happy and frankly quite surprised that the contentious issue of dealer tips has been resolved in a mutually satisfactory way through this new contract with the dealers' union," said Steve Wynn, chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts.

Wynn's tip-pooling program was enacted in August 2006. That program led to the unionization efforts.

In July 2009, the Nevada Labor Commission declared the practice legal. Dealers, who earn little more than minimum wage, receive as much as 90 percent of their income from tips, continue to challenge the ruling.

The contract does not interfere with the dealers' ongoing legal challenges. The deal also only covers dealers at Wynn Las Vegas, not at Encore.

"As a result of the tip-sharing program, dealers were motivated to organize," said Howard Cole, a labor management attorney with Lewis & Roca LLP in Las Vegas. "However, this (contract) adopts Wynn's tip-pooling program. It's a Catch-22."

Cole said he would be hard pressed to see what gains the union made with this contract.

"Yes you could argue that they got some recall of workers," but the contract was lacking arbitration and grievance procedures, he said. As a result of the hire-back policy, some full-time dealers who were let go in June have been hired back.

Messages left with Joseph Carbon, gaming division director with TWU Local 721, were not returned.

In an interview with the Review-Journal on Nov. 2, Carbon strongly defended the contract, saying the union didn't get everything it wanted but that the deal provided a chance to build off of what was accomplished.

"The contract is completely satisfying to the company in that it provides a very flexible and rational framework to deal with the challenges of casino management in the next 10 years," Wynn said in a statement.

He credited union representatives with being able to "focus intelligently on the fundamental necessities of management's flexibility in today's challenging casino environment."

In October, dealers at Wynn Las Vegas voted 258 to 65 to approve the resort's first labor contract. Cole said the contract was historic in the sense that before this time no dealers in this town had been organized, but the contract does not contain any historic provisions.

The contract provides "status-quo" protection for dealers, including some protection against at-will terminations. The contract is identical to the "last, best, and final" proposal the company presented to dealers last year, which was scheduled to expire on Nov. 17.

Shares of Wynn Resorts gained 31 cents, or 0.27 percent, to close Thursday at $114.56 on volume of 1.69 million shares traded on the Nasdaq National Market.
Wynn Resorts signs deal with dealers' union is republished from