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NLRB Accuses Vegas Hotel of Unfair Labor Practices

April 05, 1990|BOB BAKER | TIMES LABOR WRITER

Binion's Horseshoe, a downtown Las Vegas hotel and casino embroiled in a 10-week-old strike by 600 employees, has engaged in a series of unfair labor practices that ranged from firing workers and spying on their conversations to threatening to shoot one of them, according to a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board.

Roy Garner, regional director of the NLRB's Phoenix office, which has jurisdiction over Las Vegas, said investigators found a wide variety of actions by Binion's managers that violate federal labor laws.

Garner scheduled a July 17 hearing in Las Vegas, where a federal administrative law judge will hear the charges. If the complaint is sustained, workers who were fired would have to be reimbursed for lost wages. If the strike is determined to have resulted from unfair labor practices, as opposed to economic differences, strikers would get their jobs back. Binion's currently is operating with strikebreakers and about 20% of the unionized work force that has crossed the picket line.

Negotiations between Binion's and Culinary Workers Local 226, which represents the housekeepers, cooks, janitors and other hotel employees, broke down over issues of health benefits, work rules and a clause that guarantees the union contract in the event of a sale.

The NLRB complaint said that in the days before the strike began:

A Binion's security guard threatened to shoot an unidentified employee for engaging in union activities.

Managers prohibited union representatives from speaking to union members, from examining employee work schedules and from speaking in Spanish to Spanish-speaking workers.

Security guards confiscated union literature.

Management issued written reprimands or fired employees who were active in the union, threatened some workers with drug-testing and warned employees that workers who chose not to strike would have to resign from the union or lose pension benefits.

Binion's owner, Jack Binion, declined to comment on the complaint.

Jim Arnold, secretary of the culinary workers local, said the NLRB complaint sustained the union's contention that Binion's has engaged in "blatantly illegal threats."

The Binion's strike, which began Jan. 27, is the only large hotel strike growing out of 1989 contract negotiations covering Las Vegas' 28,000 unionized hotel workers. The previous round of contract talks in 1984 led to violent confrontations and more than 1,000 arrests at a variety of hotels.

The only other strike that stemmed from the 1989 negotiations was a work stoppage by the musicians union over demands by several casinos to use tape-recorded music. Musicians ended that strike earlier this year after seven months, agreeing to accept taped music in exchange for severance packages for those musicians who were displaced.

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