Caesars averts strike as casino operator in deal with Las Vegas unions

By Ananta Agarwal and Shivansh Tiwary

(Reuters) -The unions representing hospitality workers in Las Vegas reached a tentative deal with Caesars Entertainment for a new labor contract covering about 10,000 employees on Wednesday, two days before a strike deadline was set to expire.

The Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions said the five-year contract would cover workers including attendants, waiters and kitchen workers at nine Vegas properties.

Details of the agreement were not immediately available. The unions plan to make a statement later in the day. Caesars Entertainment did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the deal.

The Las Vegas unions, considered among the most powerful in the United States, are demanding higher wages, stronger protections against new technology that may threaten jobs, a reduction in steep quotas for housekeepers and improved safety.

The negotiations come as unions across industries press employers for better pay and benefits, buoyed by a shortage of workers and favorable public opinion.

The talks also come as casino-resort operators earn record profits from a steady post-pandemic recovery in tourism to Las Vegas.

Visits to the city in August were just 7% lower than in the same period in 2019, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room rates, however, have surged more than 30%.

The city is also gearing up for major events including the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix this month, which is expected to draw more than 100,000 tourists.

“Companies that can’t afford a strike shutdown are going to face the most pressure to make big concessions,” University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon said.

The unions have been negotiating for about seven months and 95% of their members voted at the end of September to authorize a city-wide strike.

Talks with rival operators MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts are yet to yield an agreement ahead of the Nov. 10 deadline for a strike.

The two companies were not available for comment.

MGM has said every 1% increase in wages will equal about $10 million of additional labor costs, according to Truist analyst Barry Jonas.

He estimated that wage increases could lift annual costs by $40 million to $60 million for Caesars and double that amount for MGM, based on their employee figures.

Caesars shares were up about 3% in early trading, while MGM and Wynn Resorts rose 1.6% and 0.5%, respectively.

(Reporting by Shivansh Tiwary and Ananta Agarwal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)