|By Arnold M. Knightly, Las Vegas
Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 25, 2010--The Culinary Union is launching an organizing campaign against its old nemesis Station Casinos.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226 announced this morning that "hundreds of workers" from Station Casinos formed an organizing committee last week and are planning to meet this morning at the union hall at South Commerce Street.
The union, along with its sister union Bartenders Union Local 165, Wednesday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against the locals gaming company.
The union alleges Station Casinos "violated federal labor law in over 100 incidences by threatening, surveilling, physically assaulting and intimidating workers for their union activities."
The unions said in a statement it has informed the gaming company's owners, partners, creditors and the National Labor Relations Board of the organizing committee.
"The workers have called on the company to agree to a fair process for workers to form a union free from management interference, intimidation and harassment," the statement said.
Station Casinos could not be reached for comment early this morning.
The union claims that hundreds of workers have lost their jobs with the company since a management-led buyout in November 2007 that took the company private and heavily leveraged.
The most recent cuts came when the Station Casinos subcontracted out coffee shops and uniform departments.
Union President Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement that the buyout is largely to blame for the current problems at Station Casinos.
"The company and the workers are in a very difficult position right now because the 2007 buyout increased the company's debt and left it unable to weather the economic downturn," Arguello-Kline said. "The company is making decisions that affect these workers' lives and their ability to take care of themselves and their families. The workers didn't create this mess, but they are suffering as a result. We are going to do everything we can so they can achieve the respect they deserve and take care of their families with dignity."
Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy on July 28.
In November, the unions issued a report on the bankruptcy asking Station Casinos' creditors to demand that the Fertitta family and other insiders that profited from the buyout make "significant equity investments" to help the company emerge from bankruptcy.
This morning, Station Casinos announced it has reached an agreement in principal on a reorganization plan with key creditors controlling nearly 67 percent of the company's secured debt.
The plan said the Fertitta family, along with some creditors and investors, would make an equity contribution as part of the reorganization.
The unions, which are an affiliate of UNITE HERE, represent nearly 55,000 casino and resort workers, mostly on the Strip and downtown.
The union has been unsuccessful in organizing Station Casinos 13,000 workers through the years.
Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at email@example.com or 702-477-3893.
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