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Howard Stutz

Reno casino workers to hold labor votes

30 August 2007

RENO, Nevada -- Reno casino workers represented by Culinary Local 226 are holding two separate votes today, one to ratify a new contract at Circus Circus in Reno and another to authorize a strike at the Grand Sierra Resort.

About 700 workers at Circus Circus reached a tentative agreement with management on a new five-year contract. The casino is operated by MGM Mirage, which last week settled contracts at 10 of the company's Strip casinos.

Culinary Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor said Wednesday the agreement with Circus Circus sets a new standard for wages and benefits earned by Northern Nevada casino workers.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 employees at the Grand Sierra will be taking a strike authorization vote that would give the workers' negotiation committee the ability to call a strike.

The Culinary has been in negotiations with the Grand Sierra and Circus Circus casinos since the spring and employees are working under contract extensions.

"Our members at the Grand Sierra are being asked to turn back the clock even though they have had to make a great number of sacrifices over the years," Taylor said.

The Grand Sierra, formerly the Reno Hilton, is privately held.

The union, which represents some 60,000 workers in Las Vegas, has only two contracts with Reno resorts.

The last time Culinary workers had a strike in Reno was in 1949. Last year, members of Culinary voted for a dues increase to bolster the union's strike fund.

In Las Vegas, the Culinary has reached five-year agreements with casinos operated by MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment and the Riviera, covering some 37,000 workers.

More than 11,000 workers in Las Vegas are still working under extended contracts while negotiations continue. Workers at hotels that have not settled new contracts and will hold a Las Vegas strike authorization vote on Sept. 12.