Workers’ Capital in Action: The Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino

Workers' Capital in Action: The Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino

For over 8 years, valet workers at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas had been fighting for union protection with the Teamsters. The struggle was marked by countless federal court hearings, National Labor Relations Board charges, letters, meetings and demonstrations. The Teamsters’ Louis Malizia tells the story of how capital stewardship and labour movement solidarity were instrumental in the hard-won Teamsters contract that the workers achieved in 2018.

It was not until the hotel’s owners, the Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management, was set to secure $500 million in new investments with the New York City Retirement System that the hotel’s bad management practices came back to haunt them.

With a Teamster representative on the public employees’ retirement system board and other union trustees across the five funds of that system (including the NYC Teachers, Firefighters and Police), concerns about the management of the Hard Rock held up the vote for the $500 million allocation. You see, NYCRS had recently adopted a new responsible contractor policy for its real estate investments and the trustees were concerned about allocating $500 million of members’ retirement assets to an investment firm whose management team violates workers’ rights and the federal laws designed to protect them.

With $500 million on the line for Brookfield, Hard Rock’s management quickly changed its tune, agreeing to a Teamster contract that provides $2/hour wage increases, participation in the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Trust, and employer paid health care. Where workers had been paying between $400-$500/month for health insurance, they now pay zero for the life of the contract. And that’s not all. Because of this engagement, the union also secured card-check neutrality for the whole property which now has new owners. Teamsters and other unions now represent hundreds of additional members at the Hard Rock Hotel who have the security of a strong union contract.

By Louis Malizia, Teamsters

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Photo: Teamsters 986