Contract talks due to resume between Las Vegas unions, Tropicana

LAS VEGAS " Contract talks are due to resume this week between the owners of the Tropicana and unions representing Nevada hotel and casino workers, officials said.

Labor lawyer Mark Ricciardi said the property's new owner, Columbia Sussex Corp., wants a new approach when negotiations restart Friday on Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 contracts.

"Just because things have been done the same way for years doesn't mean you can't look at it," Ricciardi told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Monday report. "Maybe there's a better way, and that's what we're going to put on the table to discuss."

Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex acquired the Tropicana in January as part of a $2.1 billion buyout of Aztar Corp. The company also owns the nonunion Westin hotel just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Union and Tropicana officials last met almost three months ago. At the time, the Tropicana offered broad plans to change parts of the union's traditional contract, including the union health plan, a guaranteed work week and the Culinary pension plan.

Culinary Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor said the Tropicana offer contained few specifics.

"We're going to sit down and try to negotiate a contract," Taylor said. "Obviously, we have a track record that has been successful in this town with a whole variety of companies."

The Tropicana is the largest Las Vegas Strip property still operating on expired contracts. Culinary local 226 represents more than 60,000 cooks, waiters, housekeepers and other service workers in Nevada, including employees at McCarran International Airport and at industrial laundries.

A five-year contract expired June 1, but the unions have in recent months reached agreements with most major properties, and with a regional laundry service.

Negotiations also continue with Binion's and the Golden Gate downtown, and Jerry's Nugget in North Las Vegas.

The Culinary contends the Tropicana work force has shrunk from nearly 1,000 to about 750, but John Sevilla, Tropicana property general manager, told the Review-Journal the property has close to 1,600 union and nonunion workers.


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