Union website warns Las Vegas visitors of potential strikes

/ Las Vegas Sun

Culinary Local 226 members picket outside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.

Cosmopolitan Picket

Culinary Local 226 members picket outside of Cosmopolitan Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The Culinary Union has launched a new website to warn travelers about possible labor disputes in Las Vegas.

VegasTravelAlert.org allows Las Vegas-bound visitors to sign up for email alerts about potential strikes as resort leaders work to ink new contracts with the Culinary, which represents more than 60,000 workers.

“The website will be regularly updated with information about actual and potential labor disputes affecting Las Vegas casinos and the status of contract negotiations,” union officials said in a release.

The site features a tab labeled “At-Risk Venues.” Click it and up pops two lists: “Casinos with active labor disputes” and “Casinos at risk.”

All Station Casinos properties appear under the active disputes list. The Culinary has tried and failed for years to organize workers at Station properties.

At-risk casinos include numerous properties from MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp.

“Labor contracts for the following casinos expire June 1st, 2013,” the site says. “After that date, a labor dispute is possible.”

It is unclear if the website’s launch is a preemptive move before a strike. Culinary officials were not immediately available for comment Friday.

The website’s launch comes at a contentious time for the Culinary and resort leaders. Union officials have been in contract negotiations with executives from MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. since April. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Beverage and Dispensers Union Local 165 represent more than 20,000 of MGM’s 50,000 employees.

The contracts of 44,000 hospitality workers along the Strip expire on June 1. If new contracts are not settled, Culinary officials say, the potential for labor disputes and strikes grows.

Union members grabbed headlines in March when more than 2,000 workers picketed along the Strip and nearly 100 more blocked Las Vegas Boulevard. The act of civil disobedience was in solidarity with union members who have been working at the Cosmopolitan without a contract for almost two years.

The last time MGM and Caesars sat down with the Culinary to cut out new contracts was in 2007. It took about four months to ink an agreement.