Las Vegas, Nevada

Station Casinos to bargain with unions for Red Rock Resort workers after court decision

Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa in Las Vegas Valley.
2021-11-30
United States
Reading time 1:58 min

Las Vegas-based Station Casinos will have to bargain in good faith with unions for employees at its Red Rock Resort, following a decision by a federal appeals court panel declining to overturn a lower court’s ruling.

On Friday, a panel of judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming an order by the U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in July, which requires Station Casinos to bargain with the Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 until a federal labor board makes a ruling on the dispute, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The case stems from a complaint filed by the prosecuting arm of the National Labor Relations Board, which accused the casino operator of using an offer of enhanced employee benefits to sway support away from the union in the run-up to a December 2019 union election at Red Rock Resort. The vote ultimately failed.

The Ninth Circuit panel said the lower court made a reasonable call in requiring Station Casinos to bargain with the labor organization after finding the casino likely hampered the union campaign. The appeals court judges said that granting those benefits “was likely an unlawful labor practice,” which likely changed how employees voted over fears of losing said benefits.

“Here, new employee benefits were announced just days before the union election, and there was extensive evidence that those benefits were designed to discourage union support,” the judges’ ruling said, further reports Review-Journal.

In its decision, the panel said it was bound by a 2001 ruling called Scott ex rel. NLRB v. Stephen Dunn & Associates. U.S. Circuit Judge Eric Miller said that, if it were up to him, a bargaining order would be “rarely, if ever, appropriate” when an employer is only accused of granting economic benefits to workers.

Judge Navarro had first ordered Station Casinos to bargain with the unions after finding the benefits likely violated the National Labor Relations Act, according to Law 360. The bargaining order is rarely issued, and is applied when an employer’s conduct is found to have disturbed the integrity of a union election.

Red Rock appealed this decision, argumenting Navarro’s order was inappropriate given the large size of the bargaining unit and because she allegedly ruled based only on evidence presented before the NLRB. The Ninth Circuit rejected these arguments.

“Just like Judge Navarro before it, the Ninth Circuit saw Station Casinos’ grant of benefits right before the election at Red Rock for what it was — a poorly disguised effort to take away union power and to discourage workers from unionizing,” the Culinary union said in a statement on Monday, celebrating the ruling. “This is another victory for workers who stood up and organized to have a union at Red Rock Casino.”

Station Casinos could still appeal the ruling, either to the full 9th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court, although legal experts claim it is unlikely the case would change.

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