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EDITORIAL: Workers leave the Culinary Union

Culinary Local 226 seems to think listening to workers is a one-way straight street.

In August, Boulder Station employees decided they no longer want the Culinary union and Bartenders Local 165 to represent them. A majority of the once-unionized employees signed a petition declining the union’s representation.

That’s a reversal of what happened four years ago. In 2016, employees at Boulder Station became the first Station Casinos property in Nevada to unionize. The bargaining unit included around 575 workers.

“We applaud the tremendous courage and determination of the Boulder Station workers,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary union, said at the time.

After its success at Boulder Station, the Culinary organized workers at six other Station Casinos properties.

After workers changed their minds about union representation, however, Culinary officials are suddenly less interested in applauding the “courage” of workers. The union said it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Station Casinos.

The union should reconsider its actions and take a moment to listen to those it once represented.

“With (the union) gone, the open-door policy where we can actually go into our management team and talk to them now would be wonderful,” one employee said. That employee requested anonymity based on worries over blowback from the Culinary.

Three Boulder Station employees who helped gather signatures were impressed with the company’s efforts to shield workers from the fallout of the coronavirus shutdowns.“The majority of us feel that there’s no need for the union in this place,” one employee said. The company is “doing right by us.”

Station Casinos paid workers for nearly two months after Gov. Steve Sisolak shuttered casinos. It has laid off around half of its employees. But that’s a better fate than the one suffered by many of the unionized employees on the Strip. MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Inc. implemented widespread furloughs after the casino shutdowns.

What happened at Boulder Station is a reminder that worker choice goes both ways. Unions have the ability to organize, but employees also have the ability to decertify their union. This second option is important because it allows workers to dissolve a union that isn’t meeting their needs. Many workers don’t know about the decertification option because employers are legally prevented from helping workers with that option. Outside groups, such as the Labor Relations Institute, are permitted to assist, however,

The system works best when employees have the freedom to both join a union and to leave one.

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