One of Las Vegas’ most powerful unions, Culinary Workers Local 226, led a demonstration on Wednesday against the Cosmopolitan Casino that resulted in the arrest of 98 protesters.
Workers wearing red union shirts clogged up traffic on the Las Vegas Strip as tourists watched them chant, "If we don't get no contract, you don't get no peace," while they waited to be taken away.” The union has been in negotiations with Cosmopolitan Las Vegas owner Deutsche Bank about getting a new contract for two years.
The 54,000-member union held two one-day pickets outside the casino, which sits on a bustling corner in the heart of the tourist corridor, earlier this year. According to union spokeswoman Yvanna Cancela, Wednesday was first time union members deployed civil disobedience. The protest took place on the block that the Bellagio, Aria and Planet Hollywood casinos all call home. Cancela estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people, according to ABC News.
"They need to give workers here a contract; it affects us all," said Janet Hill, a porter at the Flamingo casino down the Strip. Moments later her hands were bound with a zip-tie and she was arrested. The main issues that have caused problems during the contract negotiations are wages, health care and job security, Cancela said.
A tourist from Australia, James Lewis, took a photo of himself holding a sign reading, "No Justice, No Peace."
"I was surprised because I didn't know this was an issue here," said Lewis, "I come from a place where health care is free, so this is something completely foreign."
Cosmopolitan spokeswoman Amy Rossetti claims that management will continue to negotiate with the union to “find a fair agreement.” The union is negotiating with casino management, not with Deutsche Bank directly. There are concerns that Deutsche Bank is stalling because it intends to sell the casino and doesn't want to be burdened by a union contract.