98 arrests were made on the Las Vegas strip during a protest against the non-unionized Cosmopolitan casino.
Tourists stood and watched the Union Culinary Workers Local 226’s wearing red shirts, protest outside of the Cosmopolitan casino.
The protesters made rush hour traffic even more of a headache when they backed it up for more than an hour in both directions on the block of the Bellagio, Aria and Planet Hollywood casinos. The crowd totaled around 1,500 people.
“Cosmopolitan, look around, Las Vegas is a union town!” the protesters chanted. “… No justice, no peace! …”
Police arrested 98 protesters, according to Metro Police Capt. Todd Fasulo. The workers chanted, “If we don’t get no contract, you don’t get no peace,” as they waited to be taken away.
The last arrest was made around 6:10 p.m. Shortly after, picketers began to disperse as ordered by police, and traffic started to move again, slowly.
“I need to fight for my country,” said Maria Mares, a 50-year-old housekeeper of the Riviera, before she was one of the 98 arrested. “Cosmopolitan workers are not second-class citizens. They need a contract.”
Las Vegas’ largest union has been in contract talks with Cosmopolitan Las Vegas owner Deutsche Bank for two years.
Cosmopolitan spokeswoman Amy Rossetti said management “is continuing to negotiate with labor to find a fair agreement.” She said the union was negotiating with casino management, not with Deutsche Bank directly.
The Cosmopolitan was built by the German investment bank after its original developer defaulted. It is one of the few non-unionized casinos on the Strip, along with the Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and the Palms.
Marcus Lucas, a 49-year-old Mirage worker who was arrested said, “An agreement couldn’t come soon enough at the Cosmopolitan. We’re united here. The Cosmopolitan wants to be a model on the Strip. We can’t let that happen.”
Culinary Union members receive free health care and are paid above-average wages. Housekeepers in most Strip hotels start at $16 an hour and receive a pension.
On Wednesday, protesters said they were worried that Deutsche Bank was delaying the deal because it intends on selling the casino and doesn’t want to be stuck in a union contract.
The Cosmopolitan is one of the few casinos on the Strip where employees work without a contract.
“This had to be done,” said Brian Ward, a 52-year-old union member and bartender at the Flamingo. “It’s not a case of anger or excitement — this just needed to happen.”
Culinary Union members picket outside The Cosmopolitan
For the first time in several years, a major protest was held on the Las Vegas Strip.
Workers protest at the Cosmopolitan
Workers protest at the Cosmopolitan.
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