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Howard Stutz

Culinary protest still on despite road block denial

13 October 2014

LAS VEGAS -- The Nevada Department of Transportation told Culinary Workers Local 226 it could not block any traffic lanes on Charleston Boulevard on Thursday when it rallied against Station Casinos.

Protesters gathered anyway and, by evening’s end, three had been cited, but not jailed, by Las Vegas police.

The union wanted to close an eastbound lane on Charleston Boulevard from Desert Foothills Lane for a half mile, but the department said it was given less than 24 hours advance notice and denied the request.

About 6 p.m., Las Vegas police cars lined up in Charleston’s eastbound right-hand lane. Officers stood outside their patrol cars, keeping the vehicles between them and the few hundred protesters that crowded the sidewalk outside of Red Rock Resort. Many of them chanted “No justice, no peace” as they marched.

“We do not interfere with anyone’s constitutional right to gather or protest; however, we do care about the public impact to traffic,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia.

He said the Culinary was “free to protest and use the right-of-way, but they cannot obstruct traffic.”

Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan said the union gave the department “more than 24 hours notice.”

Illia said NDOT “typically doesn’t permit traffic closures” unless it is for highway purposes, such as road construction and repair, or sometimes police action.”

He said the department will allow street closures for special events, such as the Las Vegas Marathon. “But the (permit applicant) must first provide insurance, liability, indemnification, traffic control and parking.”

The Culinary has a long-standing labor dispute with Station Casinos over organizing more than 5,000 nongaming employees of the company’s workforce.