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Howard Stutz

Aladdin, Union Agree on Contract

4 October 2005

Nearly 10 months to the day after announcing that employees could be represented by Culinary Local 226, the Aladdin and the state's largest labor union have agreed to a new contract covering more than 1,600 workers, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer D Taylor said Monday evening.

The agreement would cover wages and benefits for the Aladdins's cocktail servers, bartenders, food servers, cooks, guest room attendants, steward and porters. The Aladdin employs 3,000 workers.

A spokeswoman for the Aladdin said nothing had been signed between the union and the hotel as of Monday afternoon.

Taylor said the contract was ratified by the workers, although the pact may not be signed for a couple of weeks.

In December, the Aladdin's ownership agreed to allow more than half its work force to be represented by the Culinary and its associate organization, Bartenders Local 165, after more than 70 percent of the eligible employees signed cards asking for union representation.

The contract would end a battle between the Aladdin and the union that began under the resort's previous ownership when the $1.4 billion property reopened in 2000.

A Planet Hollywood-led investment group took control of the troubled hotel-casino in September 2004 and launched a $500 million plan to resurrect the 2,567-room resort as Planet Hollywood. Aladdin executives had said that employees wanted union representation.

After its reopening, the Aladdin was the site of several union protests as the Culinary sought to negotiate a contract with the previous ownership.

The last protest took place in August 2004 -- just before the Planet Hollywood team took over ownership and management responsibilities -- when an estimated 1,500 union members rallied on the Strip against management's failure to recognize the union's organizing claims.

The contract agreement removes a potential headache to the Aladdin management team as the casino's transformation into a Planet Hollywood-themed property takes place in 2006.

Political consultants said that heading into the 2006 election cycle, some unions have asked candidates not to hold fundraisers or attend political events at nonunion casinos. Incumbents and challengers seeking labor union backing will usually heed that advice.

"A decent percentage, mostly Democratic candidates, won't go into a nonunion Strip hotel," said political adviser Mike Sullivan, president of Knight Consulting. "It makes a lot of sense for the Aladdin to do this because it removes that issue."

Station Casinos, a nonunion company, has been in a heated battle with the Culinary over organizing a majority of the company's 10,000 workers. In addition to opposing the construction of Red Rock Resort, Culinary leaders are involved in protests against Station Casinos' plans in Reno.

"The contract helps the Aladdin avoid the obvious boycotts and issues and eliminates a nagging and irritating problem," political consultant Dan Hart said. "Because they won't be a union target, it will help them as they become Planet Hollywood."