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Howard Stutz

Cosmopolitan, Culinary union agree on four-year labor deal

2 December 2015

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Culinary Workers Local 226, after years of hostility, announced an agreement Tuesday on a four-year contract covering some 2,000 of the Strip resort's employees in the food, beverage, housekeeping, bar and lounge and bell desk departments.

Terms of the contract were not publicly announced, but Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan said in an e-mail the contract "is standard to the rest of the Strip. This contract provides for fair wages, job security and good health benefits."

In a joint statement, the union and Cosmopolitan said workers voted to approved the contract.

"This contract is an example of when multiple parties have a vested interest in the outcome, lives can be changed," said Cosmopolitan President Bill McBeath.

The deal comes after less than a year of talks between the union and management but followed several years of heated rhetoric.

Culinary organizers obtained the signatures of a majority of Cosmopolitan employees who wanted union representation shortly after the resort opened in December 2010. However, the union and the property's previous management held few negotiating sessions.

That led to several union demonstrations in front of the hotel-casino, which included blocking travel lanes of the Strip and committing acts of civil disobedience. Union members were recorded shouting insults at guests as they entered the resort.

The tide changed last year when Blackstone Real Estate Partners, a division of the Blackstone Group, bought the hotel-casino from Deutsche Bank for $1.73 billion.

The union applauded the ownership in January and a joint celebration was held in February near the Cosmopolitan's east side entrance where community leaders and the leadership of the Culinary and Cosmopolitan toasted the new relationship.

"After four years and a change in the resort's ownership and leadership, this contract has been something I have been looking forward to," said Cosmopolitan housekeeper Claudia Zarate.

Jon Gray, Blackstone's Global Head of Real Estate, said in February the property needed labor peace to succeed.

"We made it a priority to find a resolution as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of all parties," Gray said.

The Cosmopolitan, which is privately owned but has publicly held debt, never turned a quarterly profit until reporting net income of $15.3 million in the quarter that ended June 30.

The nearly 3,000-room resort reported its second straight quarterly profit last month, saying its net income was $4.7 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.