|LAS VEGAS - March 4, 1999--The Venetian Casino Resort filed
a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court Thursday against the Culinary Union Local
226 and others, for violating The Venetian's property rights by trespassing
-- despite verbal and written notice that they were on private property
-- during a union rally held March 1, 1999.
"This lawsuit is a strong, but necessary measure to establish our private property rights," said William Weidner, President and COO of The Venetian, pointing out that "according to the State Attorney General, the sidewalks around state government office buildings are not a 'public' forum.
"The sidewalks around Clark County government buildings and the Las Vegas Convention Center are also considered private property, as is all of McCarran International Airport and the sidewalks of many other hotels on The Strip," added Weidner.
"We maintain that if county and state buildings -- funded with tax dollars -- are not 'public' for First Amendment purposes, then certainly the walkways of The Venetian should be treated similarly. There is no question The Venetian has been singled out for harassment by the Culinary Union.
"There has never been any question that the new walkways being constructed by The Venetian are on its private property," Weidner continued. "The confusion is over whether our private walkways can be taken by others and made 'public' for First Amendment purposes without our consent."
The lawsuit also names Clark County District Attorney Stuart Bell, Clark County, Nev., and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department because the police refused to make arrests during the rally, saying that Bell did not recognize The Venetian's walkways as private property.
"The Venetian's position is that our private property, just like that of any private citizen, can't simply be turned into a 'public forum' by others," Weidner said. "The Venetian has the right to keep its private walkways safe and family-friendly by keeping them free of intimidating street nuisances."
There are numerous examples of other Las Vegas businesses and government agencies maintaining their walkways as private for the purposes of First Amendment activities. A recent editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for example, highlighted the fact that other hotels on The Strip, including the Mirage resorts, own and maintain private sidewalks.
The March 1 demonstration was part of an ongoing negative publicity campaign by the Culinary to force The Venetian into signing a contract prior to opening. The hotel has refused, saying such an action would rob its future employees of their legal right to an impartial election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.
The Venetian, which opens in April, is offering a wage and benefits package that far exceeds what the Culinary Local 226 has ever negotiated for its members.
|Also See:||Venetian Group Sales Are at Approximately 71 percent of First Year Goal / Nov 1998|
|The $1.2 billion Venetian Mega - Resort Provides Progress Report to Wall Street / Oct 1998|
|Is the Venetian Trying to Push Your Convention into Buying Expensive Blocks of Rooms at its Las Vegas Hotel? / June 1998|
|Castles Made of Sand: A Critique of Las Vegas Sandsí Planned Mega-Resort|