Resorts World Las Vegas is one of the newest casinos to join the famous Las Vegas Boulevard. Now they are embattled with a union organizing effort, leading to allegations of ties to federally prohibited Chinese state-owned enterprises.
With a whopping $4.3 billion price tag, Resorts World Las Vegas is the first new-construction hotel and casino to be built in Las Vegas in more than a decade. The casino is owned by the Maylasia-based Genting Group, which owns over 50 casino properties worldwide.
Operating Engineers Local 501 was reported to be “turning up the heat in its organizing effort”, The Nevada Independent wrote on August 10. What is their new organizing maneuver? Writing Nevada Governor Sisolak (D) a letter accusing Genting Group of holding a partnership in Asian power plants with Chinese state enterprise SDIC Power Holdings. According to the letter, “SDIC’s investment holdings include numerous Chinese military companies that face prohibitions in the United States.”
In their August 3 letter to the Governor, Local 501 also copied state legislative leaders (Nevada will not hold a regular legislative session until February 2023), and members of the NV Gaming Control Board. The Gaming Control Board is made up of Governor Sisolak’s appointees and should be regarded as one of the most powerful entities in the state; Nevada runs on gaming and that’s no secret. As News3 Las Vegas reported Tuesday, Nevada’s casinos hit their 17th month straight of gaming revenues over $1 billion in July. Last month’s casino winnings generated $90.4 million dollars for the state in taxation fees.
What may be more interesting than who was copied on the letter, is who was not included in the letter. If it’s true that one of Las Vegas’ premier resorts has partnerships with Chinese military companies, why isn’t this escalated to a federal level? I didn’t notice the Department of Justice copied, or the Department of Homeland Security, or even Senator Cathrine Cortez Masto (D), who at least has a seat in the upper chamber of Congress, for now. Not even Nevada’s Attorney General was copied on the letter. Just Gaming Control Board members, some staffers, and legislators who are on the sidelines until early next year. Maybe ‘The Indy’ (as locals call it) hit the nail on the head when they implied turning the screws on Resorts World is motivated by union organizing efforts… alone.
Yet, the union has no issue contacting federal agencies on related matters. Local 501 has been trying to organize Resorts World’s maintenance workers and slot machine technicians, seeking to be recognized as their union representative since October of last year. In April, the union sent a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging “unfair labor practices”, which in laymen’s terms are accusations that their organizing efforts have been interfered with in ways federal law (NLRA) prohibits.
Note: I used to blog about labor issues and few people read it because it’s technical and boring against a historic background of thug-tactics and gangster racketeers. I’m not saying there aren’t jack-booted union organizers these days, I just admit the paperwork and legal jargon are boring.
The short-hand version of the unionization battle is that two votes have been taken, with the union losing the first vote. It appears that they expanded their bargaining unit ahead of the second vote, and are now blocking the count of those ballots through the Labor Board; seeking a card-check count in lieu of the results of the last election.
The Indy reported the bargaining unit to be about 110 employees, which is small potatoes considering the allegations of Chinese-linked military enterprises are oddly timed, coming only after organization efforts have hit obstacles.
Now, I don’t have a dog in the fight for union representation, or the absence of it. I don’t work on maintenance or slots for the casino. That issue should solely be at the discretion of the employees, who have an equal right to opt-in or out of representation. Do I think they will get a fair outcome? No. I think the NLRB or another entity will order Resorts World to negotiate a contract with the union. (Sometimes we see similar orders to casinos from courts, ie: Red Rock)
I don’t estimate that the union has the votes based on the blockage of counting them. And, I don’t think the vote numbers are going to matter, because I’ve seen a union thing or two and observed President Biden’s pro-union mantras and installations in the Department of Labor. I expect a drawn-out battle, and then a bunch of employees opting out of paying union dues under Nevada’s Right to Work laws, anyway. That’s just my guess and will likely report back on none of it.
I do have concerns about if Nevada’s major industry is illegally funding foreign military activity. I’m not sure why that is being touted in the manner it is, and not reaching the heights such an allegation requires. Am I supposed to believe that if a bargaining group of 110 people ends up with a union contract that national security concerns are then quelled? There is either activity that violates national security, or not. If the alarming allegations are more than fodder, then reporting it to literally anyone on the federal level seems pertinent.
It’s super uncomfortable when Nevada’s industry titans and power-gripping regulators put on theatrical displays for the public. Nevadans just watched the politicization of the Athletic Commission this week, ending in a ridiculous rant to the local media demanding for the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Joe Lombardo, to resign as Sheriff. It’s a gambling town and I’ll place my bets on things getting worked out just fine between industry, the unions, and state regulators… always does, right? But, does anyone involved care to address the national security issue on a federal level? That part.