Local 3555 in Las Vegas has demonstrated it knows how to appeal to Nevada workers on The Strip. In the last two years, gaming workers from Flamingo/ Margaritaville, The LINQ, Paris/Bally’s and The Cromwell have joined the UAW.
There are first-ever contracts in place at Flamingo/ Margaritaville, The LINQ and Paris/Bally’s. Organizing continues, and Local 3555 recently held its second annual open house at its office just off The Strip.
Part of the UAW’s success in Las Vegas and elsewhere is due to reaching out to a diverse population. It’s to let them know that they are a part of our movement and are welcome to bring their ideas, talents and energy to the fight.
Las Vegas is the most recent example of this, where Local 3555 has reached out to Asian-American gaming workers. The local estimates that 35 to 45 percent of dealers and slot attendants at the Flamingo/ Margaritaville casinos are Asian-Americans; about 50 percent are Asian-American at The LINQ. Overall, estimates are that 50 percent of gaming workers in Las Vegas are of Asian heritage
Part of the outreach is making sure the organizers have members who speak the same language on the organizing committee. Another part is making sure printed materials are in the language that members feel most comfortable using. For instance, in Las Vegas, ads for the recent open house were placed in the major daily local newspaper, and in Chinese and Spanish language newspapers. Local 3555’s Quiling “Mandy” Sun said building trust with prospective members is crucial. It’s hard to build trust if there are language barriers.
“We have to build a relationship with that person,” Sun said. “If they trust us, they will support us and the union.”
Yuee Xie said the numbers of Asian-American gaming workers means they can be a force for economic and social justice.
“It’s very important to have strong Asian members as they have influence in the Asian community.
People will listen to us. Also, as a group we are very powerful. We have a lot of power at our command as we represent over 50 percent of the gaming industry here in Vegas,” Xie said. “It would be a shame for us to not come together and use that power, not only for our benefit but to benefit all gaming workers.”
Xie added that the UAW needs to continue to promote the many positive things it does in the community to help bring more Asian-Americans into the union.
“There are a lot of things the union does behind the scenes that workers never hear about,” she said. “We have to take credit in some ways for all the positives, heard and unheard.”
Sun said many Asian-Americans support the UAW’s efforts in Las Vegas because of its past success in the gaming industry. With more than 13,000 gaming workers in nine states, gaming workers understand the UAW has tremendous experience in the industry. “We also get the best contracts for the workers,” she added.
Two of those contracts recently were ratified by table games dealers at The LINQ and slot attendants at the Paris/Bally’s casinos. The contract for the 287 dealers at The LINQ was ratified by a 99 percent margin. The contract for the 38 slot attendants at Paris/Bally’s was unanimously supported. The agreements, which include guaranteed raises in each year for all employees, expire Sept. 30, 2019.
Marlo Brooks, the chair of The LINQ bargaining committee, said there were dealers who were not making $9 an hour after decades on the job. The guaranteed raises provided in the agreement are far superior to so-called merit raises. The bargaining committee investigated and found that very few dealers actually received those raises.
“Their merit raises are nothing compared to what they are going to be,” Brooks said. “Ninety-nine percent of (the members) are really excited.”
Michael Boudell, chair of the Paris/Bally’s bargaining committee, said slot attendants were pleased with the economic gains, but other gains were important, too.
“With our UAW contract, we finally have a process that protects the workers by which we can hold our employer accountable and a grievance procedure that assures us
that discipline is for just cause,” said
Boudell, who noted that the slot attendants also work at the Bally’s casino, which is connected to the Paris property. “The workers are thrilled that we all have a seniority structure that replaces an old matrix system that was based on favoritism.”
Gary Jones, director of UAW Region 5, which includes Nevada, said the bargaining committees did an outstanding job at winning agreements that address the
employees’ needs at each particular property.
“All properties have different needs and the bargaining committees won strong improvements and protections that will serve their memberships well for years to come,” Jones said. “The solidarity shown by Local 3555 members helped these committees craft solid agreements.”
The ratifications come nearly one year after UAW- represented gaming workers at the Flamingo/ Margaritaville casinos ratified their first-ever contract. The UAW now represents more than 750 gaming employees on The Strip.
Neil Berson, president of Local 3555, said the strong member support for the contracts also strengthens the UAW’s presence in Las Vegas.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Berson said. “These are contracts that protect the workers, that give the workers rights, and that give the workers something that they didn’t have before.”
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