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For the First Time in a Decade, Las Vegas' Culinary Union Members Plan to Picket
on the Strip Over Standstill with Cosmopolitan Negotiations

By Ron Sylvester, Las Vegas SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 30, 2013--For the first time in a decade, members of the Culinary Union are planning to picket on the Las Vegas Strip, as contract negotiations remain at a standstill with the Cosmopolitan.

Union officials say the pickets planned for Thursday come after 18 months of negotiations with resort owner Deutsche Bank to establish a contract for workers. Negotiations have stalled on issues including wages, health care costs and job security. The Cosmopolitan is one of the few casinos on the Strip where employees are working without a contract.

"What workers believe is that if smaller places like the Riviera and Tropicana can pay workers decent wages and health care like other bigger properties on the Strip, there's no reason why the Cosmopolitan should be the exception," said Yvenna Cancela, spokeswoman for the union. "The workers are asking for same standards that have been established on the Strip over the past decade."

The pickets are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Cosmopolitan is the only major casino in Las Vegas in negotiations to establish a contract with Culinary 226, union officials said. A majority of Cosmopolitan service employees signed cards in 2010 saying they wished to have union representation.

"We understand that it is the union's right to picket," said Amy Rossetti, Cosmopolitan director of public relations. "The Cosmopolitan has been negotiating in good faith and will continue to do so."

C.J. Harry, 40, a bartender at the Henry at the Cosmopolitan, said many minor parts of a contract have been agreed upon, but major issues remain unresolved.

"I came here from a union job, so I know the difference," said Harry, who has bartended in Las Vegas for 12 years and joined the Cosmopolitan when it opened two years ago. "I continue to work there in hopes we can get a contract. It's a good place to work. We just want to have conditions that are equal to everywhere else on the Strip."

Employees have agreed not to ask for pay increases for several years but want terms for issues such as seniority.

Also, under most union contracts, the resorts pay health care costs. At the Cosmopolitan, employees share those costs.

"My opinion is they are negotiating, but it's going much slower than most parties have anticipated," Harry said. "Tomorrow we're going to go out in front of the Cosmopolitan and show them we're ready to have a contract."

It is the first time the union has held pickets on the Strip since 2003, during negotiations with the former Aladdin, now Planet Hollywood.

The Culinary Union represents employees including food and beverage, house keeping and other service staff.

The only large casinos on or near the Strip where the Culinary Union does not represent employees are the Quad, the Palazzo and Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and the Palms. Workers at those resorts have not asked to join the union.

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas dares to be different. From the hotel's red reservations desks to fine art found throughout the resort, The Cosmopolitan's signature style is helping to pave its own path on the Las Vegas Strip.

Upon entering the resort, you're greeted by pillars of video boards playing video art by Digital Kitchen and David Rockwell Studio exclusively produced for The Cosmopolitan. Just beyond that, you'll find all your favorite casino games on the resort's 100,000-square-foot casino floor.

The Cosmopolitan's rooms standout as the resort's most unique feature. About 2,220 of The Cosmopolitan's 2,995 rooms have 6-foot deep terraces that span the length of the room, a first at a modern Strip hotel. Other in-room amenities include soaking tubs, kitchenettes and quirky accessories like artsy coffee table books.

The dining experience at The Cosmopolitan isn't something you'll find at other Strip resorts, either. All of The Cosmopolitan's 13 restaurateurs are new to the Las Vegas market. You'll find American steakhouse fare in a modern setting at STK, top-notch sushi at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and the freshest fish flown in from the Mediterranean daily at Estiatorio Milos.

Whether the sun is up or down, Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub is the place to find the party at The Cosmopolitan. The venue is a dayclub/nightclub, complete with a pool and cabanas outside and three different rooms with three different vibes inside.

If nightclubs aren't your thing, you can grab a drink at one of The Cosmopolitan's five other bars, like The Chandelier, which is encased in 2 million dripping crystals.

3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-698-7000


(c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)

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