|By Ed Komenda, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 20, 2013--The Culinary Union is preparing for the worst.
Thousands of its members gathered at Cashman Field on Monday to vote on an increase in dues to plump up the Local 226 strike fund. The votes come just two weeks before union contracts expire along the Strip.
The results of the vote won't be released until later.
Union and resort leaders settled their current contract back in August 2007, and Culinary members have not voted to increase strike funds since 2006.
Money from the strike fund is typically used to support demonstrators in the event of a strike or lockout.
The last major Culinary strike happened in September 1991, when hundreds of union members protested outside the Frontier. It turned out to be the longest strike in U.S. history.
For six years, four months and 10 days, 550 hotel and restaurant workers held a 24-hour picket outside the casino. The strike ended Jan. 31, 1998, when Frontier management invited most of the employees back to work.
The Culinary so far this year has twice sat down with leaders at MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment to talk contracts.
The Culinary represents 60,000 food and beverage, housekeeping and other service staff at 33 of the Strip's 40 properties and all but one downtown casino. Members are predominantly immigrants and represent 84 countries.
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