weather icon Clear

Culinary union drops lawsuit against MGM Resorts

Updated July 21, 2020 - 11:27 am

The Culinary union has dropped its lawsuit against MGM Resorts International.

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 had filed a lawsuit against the company’s Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio and The Signature at the MGM Grand in late June, accusing the company of not offering safe working conditions during the pandemic.

In a Monday statement, the union said it moved to dismiss the lawsuits because arbitration is scheduled to begin with MGM Tuesday.

“This arbitration is a first step and the Culinary Union will continue to negotiate aggressively and take any other steps necessary to ensure workers and their families are protected from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace,” union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said.

MGM Resorts filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on July 7, claiming that despite communicating with union leadership more than 60 times during and after the casino shutdowns, the union never asked MGM to adopt specific health and safety standards or claimed the company’s health and safety protocols were insufficient.

“In negotiation meetings, the Union continued to focus on economic issues,” according to MGM’s motion to dismiss. “The Union raised concerns about scheduling, seniority and recall, but its leadership never picked up the phone about the COVID-19 issues set forth in the Complaint.”

The union had until Tuesday to respond to MGM’s motion to dismiss.

According to the document, the company first learned that the union wanted stricter protocols when it filed the lawsuit.

MGM claims the union “made no effort” to contact MGM after the lawsuit was filed and it was MGM that initiated discussions and requested meetings with the union.

The union didn’t agree to a meeting until July 6, after a mutually selected arbitrator ordered it to do so, and did not agree to provide any information until MGM filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, and an arbitrator forced the union to comply, according to MGM’s motion to dismiss.

“The Culinary Union filed a frivolous lawsuit asserting that we did not have adequate health and safety protocols,” a statement from MGM said. “They have now made a motion to dismiss their lawsuit after we challenged them in court. We hope that the Culinary Union will work collaboratively with us in the future when it comes to health and safety issues.”

According to a July 13 legal document, the union and MGM were scheduled to begin arbitration Tuesday, set to run through Friday.

The union is still pursuing its lawsuit against Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s Guy Fieri Las Vegas.

“Workers who make this city run deserve to be protected and they are at risk everyday,” Argüello-Kline said, adding that the union is working to place the Adolfo Fernandez Bill on the agenda for the Nevada Legislature’s next special session.

Named after a Caesars Palace employee who died from COVID-19, the bill would mandate policies such as free testing for all workers before returning to work, free testing for those who have been exposed to the virus, temperature checks for workers and more.

The union is continuing to collect worker statements on unsafe working conditions throughout the Strip and downtown.

Since the onset of the pandemic, 22 union members and their dependents have died from COVID-19. As of July 15, 352 culinary and bartenders union members and their spouses or dependents have been hospitalized because of the virus.

The union says the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations for union members and their spouses or dependents has increased 860 percent since Nevada casinos were allowed to reopen June 4, from five patients in the hospital June 4 to 24 on July 16.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.