Culinary Union launches campaign to organize 10,000 non-union restaurant workers in Las Vegas beginning with Eataly Las Vegas at Park MGM, releases new website listing over 360 union restaurants on Labor Day
September 4, 2023
Las Vegas, NV – On Labor Day, the Culinary Union has launched a campaign to organize 10,000 non-union restaurant workers, beginning with Eataly Las Vegas at Park MGM. The Culinary Union is actively engaging in outreach to restaurant workers who are employed in and around unionized casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The Culinary Union is also releasing a new website, UnionEats.org which features hundreds of union restaurants so that members of the public can support restaurant workers on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas by patronizing unionized establishments where workers are treated with dignity, have fair wages, job security, great health care benefits, and respect on-the-job.
UnionEats.org features a comprehensive guide of 366 unionized restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. The guide includes union restaurants by casino, type of cuisine, and a helpful price-range for tourists and customers. The first organizing campaign for a non-union restaurant featured on UnionEats.org is Eataly Las Vegas at Park MGM, a MGM Resorts International casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip. A Spanish mirror of the website will be launched soon, and the website will be updated regularly as the Culinary Union launches organizing campaigns at other non-union restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip in the coming weeks.
“While the restaurant industry is booming on the Las Vegas Strip, non-union restaurant workers are being left behind. No one should be forced to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet to take care of themselves and their families. If restaurant workers have a 40-hour work week, they should be able to live the Las Vegas Dream, especially when restaurants rake in millions of dollars a year,” said Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “There is deep inequality inside Eataly Las Vegas with half of the workers being union and the other half are not, and non-union workers are fed up with being second class! That’s why the Culinary Union is launching the campaign to organize 10,000 restaurant workers, starting with MGM Resorts International’s Eataly Las Vegas at Park MGM. Non-union workers have dedicated years of their life to ensure the success of Eataly Las Vegas, but the success of Eataly Las Vegas has not trickled down to workers. Some of the richest restaurants in the country are on the Las Vegas Strip – they bring in millions of dollars of revenue each year, but wages for non-union restaurant workers are lagging behind. It’s time to unionize the restaurant industry!”
In September, a leadership committee of Eataly Las Vegas workers attended big table negotiations with the Culinary Union and MGM Resorts International where they introduced themselves and presented the company negotiators with a 6-foot petition signed by over 80 of their co-workers demanding that MGM Resorts respect their signatures and agree to a fair process for workers to decide whether to have union representation without management interference and intimidation.
“I’m fighting for a fair process so that my coworkers and I can decide whether to unionize without interference. There aren’t enough workers to cover us during our breaks, so we have to take it whenever we can or at the end of our shift. We are humans, and we want to be treated as such. We aren’t robots that don’t need breaks or water. We deserve to be treated with dignity,” said Roselia Vaquerano, a cook at Eataly Las Vegas. “I’m a single mom. I live with my mother and my daughter (who also works at Eataly Las Vegas), but her income goes to pay for her education, so I’m taking care of the rest: Rent, groceries, and bills, and it is hard to make ends meet when your paycheck is not enough to cover everything. Winning a union would mean a huge victory for me and my coworkers. It would mean having better wages, health care, and benefits which would give us the opportunity to work with excitement and know that we would have a way to cover our bills.”
In a survey conducted June – August 2023 of 28 out of approximately 131 non-union Eataly Las Vegas workers, the Culinary Union found that:
- 61% of respondents said they currently have between $0-$999 in their savings account. Workers are living paycheck to paycheck and have no financial buffer in an emergency.
- 1/3 of respondents said that in the past 12 months, workers did not have enough money to cover rent or food.
- Workers stated that they or their immediate family members depend on public assistance programs such as SNAP/WIC and Medicaid.
Fighting for a union is how the restaurant workers can be sure that one job is enough. Nationally, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that union-represented workers in Food Services and Drinking Places made $7,644 more in median annual wages in 2022 than non-union workers: That is 22% more than non-union workers. In Las Vegas, non-union workers work side-by-side with unionized Eataly Las Vegas workers who make an average of $4.00 an hour more in wages, have unrivaled full-family coverage no monthly premium free health care, contract-mandated breaks and meal times, job security, and a pension.
“I support Eataly Las Vegas workers in this fight because I know what it means to work without a union. I believe that one job should be enough and we deserve to spend more time with our families,” said Alicia Solorzano, a unionized porter steward at Eataly Las Vegas. “Culinary Union members throughout the city are fighting for the best contract ever with the highest wage increases, so we need to stay united. Having a union contract means having a better life for my family and my kids. I also want that for my co-workers. We all deserve to have a fair share of the success we’ve helped create. Eataly Las Vegas workers, stick together and you will win the right to organize!”
RESTAURANT INDUSTRY FACTS:
- Food and beverage sales represent 25% of total income made by these casinos overall and are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. Though profits have skyrocketed for restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, but wages for non-union restaurant workers are lagging behind.
- Nationally, the number of food prep and serving related jobs has increased by 27% since layoffs during the pandemic, but the average wage has only increased 8%. In Las Vegas, the Culinary Union has seen nearly 10,000 union jobs that haven’t returned due to pandemic-related cuts and buffet closures.
- Today, the average non-union wage in Las Vegas for a food prep and/or serving related worker is $14.39 an hour. This is an annual average of $29,920. After working endlessly to keep the industry afloat during the pandemic, restaurant workers deserve to live and work with dignity and respect.
THE RESTAURANT WORKER PLATFORM:
- One job should be enough: If restaurant workers work a 40-hour work week, they should be able to provide for themselves and their families.
- Affordable health care: Restaurant workers shouldn’t have to choose between keeping themselves and their families health and paying rent.
- Tip transparency: Restaurant workers should get to decide how tips are distributed.
- Safety at work: No harassment from management or customers.
- Respect and dignity: Especially with regard to race, gender, immigration status, language, and sexual orientation.
- A union: Restaurant workers want the right to organize without intimidation or retaliation from the boss.
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