Culinary Union workers picket at Virgin Hotels, demanding better pay

Culinary Union workers picketing outside of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on April 11, 2024. (Frank Alejandre / The Nevadan / El Nevadense)

By Jannelle Calderón

April 15, 2024

Virgin Hotels is the only Las Vegas property yet to come to a contract agreement with the Culinary Union, leaving more than 600 workers ready to strike.

Hundreds of Culinary Union Local 226 workers picketed for a second time at the off-Strip Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on Thursday to put pressure on management as negotiations for a new five-year contract continue.

Workers first held an informational picket in March after a strike deadline extension expired. While Thursday’s picketing was not part of a strike, a strike can be called at any time.

A Culinary Union spokesperson said negotiations with Virgin Hotels continue this week ahead of several events and conferences happening over the next few weeks near or at the hotel, such as the Professional Eye Care Associates of America’s annual meeting and the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority’s Western Regional Conference.

A strike could mean more than 600 union workers, ranging from ​​guest room attendants and cocktail and food servers to laundry and kitchen workers, walk out on the job.

Virgin Hotels is the only one of the nearly two dozen companies the Culinary Union has negotiated with over the last 10 months yet to reach a deal. Workers at the property said they are asking for the same benefits their Strip counterparts were able to get, including wage increases, job protections amid the adoption of new technology, and workload reductions.

“We’re here fighting for the contract that everybody else got,” said Lee McNamara, who is a lead cook with the family dining room at Virgin Hotels. “It’s frustrating, but we’re here to get the job done. And we’re determined, we’re very determined to get what’s ours.”

McNamara said he and his son work to support his family of six, but their incomes often just cover the bills, leaving little left over for anything else. He said he had to pick up a second job on the weekends in order to have some money left over — even though it takes him away from his family.

“Instead of being home on the weekends with my children, I have to go to a second job,” McNara said. “This job pays for the majority of the bills but it’s just not enough. I want to be able to go out as a family and enjoy a meal. It’s difficult with everything being so expensive.”

  • Jannelle Calderón

    Jannelle Calderón is a bilingual politics and community multimedia reporter with a passion to highlight the human side to policy and issues as well as showcasing the vibrant cultures found in Southern Nevada. She previously reported for The Nevada Independent and graduated from UNLV.

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