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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Culinary, Wynn in Pact For 10 years

4 October 2005

Wynn Las Vegas and the Culinary Union have agreed to a unique 10-year contract that will keep wages of the property's maids, porters, food-service workers and bartenders at least as high as any other union hotel on the Strip.

The contract has the longest term ever negotiated with a Las Vegas hotel. It is also noteworthy because it allows the 4,000 workers themselves to determine future changes, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor said Monday.

Recent Las Vegas hotel contracts with the Culinary have had five-year terms. Taylor said doubling that length in the Wynn contract was unprecedented. He also said the provision allowing workers to vote on contract renegotiations is a first in the industry and, quite possibly, anywhere.

Under terms of the deal, finalized in August, either Wynn Las Vegas or the Culinary will be able to reopen negotiations on the contract once every three years.

If the union and the hotel are unable to agree during the renegotiation, each side would present its proposed solution on a secret ballot, with the workers voting to decide which proposal they prefer.

After the vote, the parties would be allowed to resume negotiations on the matter, but if no agreement were reached, the vote the employees take would determine if and how the contract would be changed.

The Culinary signed new contracts with most of the Strip's major hotels and many downtown properties in 2002. The union has enjoyed generally positive working relationships with most casino companies. The Venetian and the Imperial Palace are the only major Strip hotels without Culinary representation.

Taylor said Steve Wynn's record of treating workers well was critical to the workers' decision to agree to such a long contract and to the unique provision allowing the Culinary members themselves to resolve future contract disagreements.

"The history of Steve Wynn is that he's been fair to his workers," Taylor said. "The agreement demonstrates a lot of confidence in the (Culinary) membership to act responsibly."

Kent Wong, director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, said the deal didn't surprise him.

"In Las Vegas you have an unusual set of circumstances," Wong said. "It's a one-industry town, you have high union density and you have a long-standing positive relationship between the companies and the union. When you have positive labor-management relations, it makes other contract provisions possible."

Wynn Resorts General Counsel Marc Rubinstein said the employee-vote provision has a couple of narrow exceptions, including one that would restrict the right to such a vote in the event of a drastic "9/11 type" tourism interruption.

In other Culinary news, 1,300 Aladdin workers voted last week to agree to a new contract with the hotel, slated to become Planet Hollywood.

Taylor said about 98 percent of the workers voted to agree to the deal, which expires in May 2007 along with the rest of the major hotel contracts on the Strip.

Because neither party wanted to open another set of negotiations so soon after concluding the new deal, both parties have agreed to accept the same economic terms as those the MGM Mirage properties agree to in 2007.

Aladdin executives were unable Monday to confirm the new deal.

Taylor said the union members were glad their long battle to get an Aladdin contract was successful.

"They were overjoyed," Taylor said.