600 hotel-casino workers march through downtown Reno

RENO - About 600 hotel-casino employees marched through downtown Reno Friday evening in a bid to speed up contract talks with casino management.

The Circus Circus, Reno Hilton and Flamingo Hilton-Reno workers are represented by the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, better known as the Culinary Union.

They carried signs and chanted messages while marching from Circus Circus to the Truckee River. Key contract issues concern job security, health insurance and pay.

''I hope that this time they get the message,'' said Jose Concepcion, a Reno Hilton employee who joined a similar march in September 1998.

About 700 Circus Circus employees are seeking contract renewals, with the health-care issue their major stumbling block.

Negotiations are under way on first-time contracts representing about 1,400 Reno Hilton workers and 450 Flamingo employees. Hilton employees approved the union last year.

The Culinary Union is stronger is Southern Nevada, where it has most of its 55,000 members statewide.

Workers believe negotiations aren't moving fast enough and want the contracts settled quickly, said Scott MacKenzie, chief executive officer of union Local 86.

Rhett Long, senior vice president and general manager at the Reno Hilton, said he was surprised by the march.

''Any first-time negotiation, expecially on a (bargaining) unit this size, takes generally a little longer,'' he said. ''I would have to say, overall, it's moving in a very positive direction.''

Mike Sloan, vice president of the Mandalay Resort Group in Las Vegas, which owns and operates Circus Circus, said he does not expect difficulty reaching an agreement with the union.

Labor activist Andrew Barbano said union actions would be taken against Hilton resorts in Las Vegas unless there's movement in the contract talks.


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