Big Labor’s Vegas gamble

Fred Wszolek Spokesman, Workforce Fairness Institute
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On the heels of the city of Detroit filing for bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Big Labor apparently has not learned its lesson. Union bosses played a pivotal role in Detroit’s demise making unreasonable salary and benefit demands that contributed to nearly $15 billion in unfunded liabilities.

One would think labor bosses would have used the experience to guide their thinking on how they deal with issues related to workers and the economy, but nothing could be further from the truth. Unsatisfied with having taken down the Motor City, once the fourth-largest in the country, union bosses have set their sights on Las Vegas.

Recently, Big Labor bosses in Vegas have made threats that unless they get their way on contract negotiations they will seek a city-wide strike. The Associated Press reported, “The Culinary Union has issued a written warning to Wall Street investors, saying a citywide strike by Las Vegas hotel workers is possible if contracts aren’t inked soon with two major companies. The union, which represents some 50,000 bartenders, maids and food servers, has been in negotiations with gambling giants MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. It says union workers are preparing for a ‘major labor dispute,’ and a strike is imminent unless solid contracts result soon from the negotiations.”

More threats, more economic uncertainty, and more demands for payback from union bosses at the expense of workers and business owners. In the last several years, Las Vegas and indeed Nevada have suffered mightily under the slow and stagnant economy. Nevada continues to have a staggeringly high unemployment rate with nearly 10 percent of people out of work. In addition, the state continues to have the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

Yet, none of this deters Big Labor from seeking what it believes it is owed, damn the consequences. In a recent editorial, the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote, “This valley has suffered enough. If, as the union says, its proposals are aimed at the ‘long-term security of healthcare, pension and other benefits’ of members, then it will reverse course on its strike talk and instead start assuring visitors they can come to Las Vegas anytime and have a great time – no matter how long it takes the Culinary to get a deal done.”

The local Culinary Union Local 226 has a sordid past and has recently been engaged in acts that hurt tourism in the Silver State. For instance, they launched a travel alert site attempting to deter couples from getting married in Las Vegas. And to make matters worse, they are putting the screws to employers in Nevada to subsidize their own malfeasance and mismanagement.

For instance, Culinary union bosses paid out more than $1.2 million dollars in 2012 to consultants whose job it was to damage Nevada’s economy; they spent more than $200,000 to actively lobby their own union officers; they continue to pay former President Bruce Raynor despite his resignation in 2011 amid allegations of improper conduct; and on and on and on.

The Culinary union’s attacks against job creators in Las Vegas and the citizens of the city are an extreme demonstration of greed. They are putting their own interests above those of workers and families. They are causing harm to the city and deterring important economic activity that impacts the very workers they claim to represent and care about.

Instead of the Culinary union conducting a city-wide strike, it is time for workers to send a message to labor bosses and strike the Culinary union. Nevada is a right-to-work state meaning employees can make the decision whether or not to join a collective bargaining unit or have wages diverted from their paychecks to the union. Enough is enough. Unions were formed to represent the interests of workers, but today they exist to bankroll the bosses running them and the special interests they anoint. To ensure Nevada jobs are protected, employees must stand up to the labor bosses seeking to destroy their livelihoods.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), which recently re-launched the Alliance to Protect Nevada Jobs (APNJ).