Union plans protest for Aladdin

LAS VEGAS - Union organizers intend to invite themselves to Thursday's opening of the Las Vegas Strip's newest megaresort.

Culinary Local 226 is planning to stage a protest at 5 p.m. in front of the Aladdin hotel-casino ''to let everyone know we are going after that property,'' said Kevin Kline, director of organizing.

Allowing Strip resorts to operate without union representation threatens the standard of living in Southern Nevada, Kline said.

Aladdin Gaming LLP Chairman Richard Goeglein said his company is focused on creating ''a truly unique and positive environment'' for its employees and is neither for or against the union.

''I don't think about them,'' Goeglein said. ''They truly are not relevant to what we are doing.''

Thursday's protest might be the beginning of a struggle similar to that at The Venetian, which has operated without a union contract since its May 1999 opening.

''We don't go away and we will organize both of those properties,'' Kline said about The Venetian and Aladdin.

Aladdin workers were not represented by the Culinary union when it closed in November 1997.

Goeglein denied rumors that Aladdin managers and supervisors were trained to thwart union efforts. He said part of the training is to educate the staff about what to say when dealing with union organizing efforts. But he said the training is not anti-union. He likened it to compliance training for other federal laws such as sexual harassment.

The Venetian maintains a similar stance.

MGM Grand and The Venetian both opened nonunion and successfully weathered protests, said Jason Ader, a Bear, Stearns & Co. casino industry analyst. Many MGM employees have since joined unions.

A union dispute surrounding the opening of a new resort ''can be embarrassing for Las Vegas,'' said University of Nevada, Las Vegas Professor Bill Thompson. ''It sets a tone that's not good.''


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