National Labor Relations Board Scolds Red Rock Casino Effort to Pause Union Talks

By | August 4, 2021

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) director is asking a federal judge to dismiss a plea from the parent company of Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas to pause union negotiations.

National Labor Relations Board Culinary Red Rock
Culinary union leader Geoconda Arguello-Kline speaks at an event last year. The National Labor Relations Board is working with Arguello-Kline to require Red Rock Casino to enter into union discussions. (Image: Nevada Public Radio)

Last month, US District Judge Gloria Navarro issued a ruling ordering an entity called NP Red Rock LLC, doing business as Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa and controlled by Station Casinos, to recognize the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.

Navarro’s decision was the result of the court finding significant evidence that Red Rock greatly increased benefit packages ahead of an employee vote to decide whether to unionize with the Unite Here affiliates. 

The federal court case between Red Rock and the unions is not over. But as the challenge moves forward, Navarro has directed the Las Vegas casino, located in the affluent Summerlin neighborhood, to initiate discussions with union brass. 

Casino Request

Red Rock filed an appeal soon after Navarro’s order asking the judge to suspend the requirement to sit down with Culinary and Bartender leaders. Attorneys for the casino argue that negotiating labor terms with union officials and potentially more than 1,000 resort employees “will cause Red Rock irreparable harm.”

The appeal also contends that its labor dispute lawsuit should be allowed to play out before such consequences are enforced. 

The Court’s grant of Petitioner’s motion to have the issue of a temporary injunction decided on the administrative record, over Red Rock’s strong objections, raises serious due process concerns — especially in light of the extreme remedies imposed by the temporary injunction,” Red Rock’s appeal asserts. “Due process requires that a party affected by government action be given ‘the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.’”

Cornele Overstreet, NLRB director for the agency’s Phoenix office, rejects such claims. He says Navarro should dismiss the casino’s arguments and require the company to engage in good faith labor talks.

“The public interest here is best served by the injunctive relief provided by the court, because it is the best means to protect employees’ statutory rights and the board’s remedial authority,” Overstreet stated.

Employees with Benefits

Station Casinos and its billionaire owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III have long opposed unions. Las Vegas casino union officials, as well as the National Labor Relations Board, the latter being the plaintiff in the ongoing lawsuit against Red Rock, claim the casino jacked up benefits ahead of a planned union vote among workers to sway some to the company’s side.

The benefits, the NLRB contends, unlawfully interfered with workers’ rights to decide whether to unionize. 

Internal communications among Red Rock’s executives show that the promised and granted benefits were formulated with the stated purpose of undermining the union’s appeal, and that the announcement of those benefits was intertwined with anti-union messaging and timed to deter the union’s organizing effort,” Overstreet said in the court filing.

The benefits improvements included free health care for workers earning less than $41,600 annually, or who make under $20 per hour. The HMO deductible was also eliminated for all employees. Red Rock additionally expanded its 401(k) program to offer a per-hour contribution to each worker’s employer-sponsored pension account.

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