Engaged in deliberate union-busting tactics

Labor Court orders Station Casinos to bargain with Culinary Union after labor law violations

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A labor court ruling on Monday mandates that Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos, must negotiate with Culinary Local 226 after it was found to have violated national labor laws and undermined a 2019 union election.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld an April 2022 decision by an administrative law judge that Red Rock Resorts engaged in deliberate union-busting tactics to interfere with employees' choice regarding union representation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

This decision is the first under a Cemex order, a precedent from a 2023 case, requiring businesses to recognize and bargain with a union if found to have committed labor law violations, regardless of the election outcome.

“The centerpiece of the Respondent’s unlawful campaign was its tripart message promising and granting employees tremendous new benefits without the Union, threatening to withhold or withdraw these benefits if employees selected the Union, and implicitly threatening that selecting the Union could only lead to years of fruitless bargaining without any improvement to working conditions,” according to the 81-page decision.

Hospitality workers at three Station hotel-casinos—Red Rock, Boulder Station, and Palace Station—campaigned to join Culinary and Bartenders Local 165 unions between 2016 and 2019. The NLRB found that Station management broke the law several times before the Red Rock casino’s election, including offering new benefits to sway employees against the union. Workers at the Summerlin casino voted against the union, 627-534.

One instance cited involved management directing chefs in the employee dining room at Red Rock to serve free steaks branded with “Vote No!” messages. Food quality was a key concern for employees, alongside pay and benefits.

“This decision affirms what we have been saying for years - that Station Casinos violated the law and the company must bargain with the union because of its unlawful actions that corrupted the prospect for a free and fair union election. Station Casinos needs to stop breaking the law and treat its workers with respect. This company is an outlier in the Nevada gaming industry and it will be held accountable by the federal government,” Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, said.

In rejecting Red Rock’s defenses, the NLRB called out several Station Casinos executives by name for their unreliable testimony. Chief Financial Officer Stephen Cootey, Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Welch and now retired Chief Operating Officer Robert Finch, among others, according to the panel “testified with such an unusual degree of evasiveness and wholly implausible forgetfulness that the judge was fully warranted in discounting their testimony as generally unreliable except where independently corroborated or against the [Red Rock Casino’s] interest."

The ruling requires Station Casinos management to bargain in good faith at Red Rock. The company can appeal the decision in federal court.

This decision follows a prolonged conflict between Culinary Union and Station Casinos, controlled by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta. The union has been attempting to negotiate at several Station properties without a contract. The company was first ordered to negotiate in good faith with Red Rock Resort union employees in a 2021 court decision.

The board’s remedies include removing employee images from the company’s anti-union website, reinstating and compensating a terminated employee, expunging unlawful discipline from an employee’s record, and posting notices of the ruling.

Monday’s decision is separate from union issues at Sunset Station. In April, company officials claimed a majority of union members at the Henderson resort-casino chose to remove the union as their bargaining representative. Culinary stated it planned to file an unfair labor practice charge.

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