National Labor Relations Board sides with Culinary Union against Station Casinos

Culinary Rally at Palace Station

Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor leads a chant during a  rally and picket line organized by the Culinary Union Local 226 to condemn Station Casinos' anti-union campaigns in front of Palace Station in Las Vegas Thursday, March 11, 2010. Launch slideshow »

The National Labor Relations Board today found Station Casinos of Las Vegas violated federal labor law in dozens of instances in its response to Culinary Union organizing efforts.

Station, the largest locals casino operator in Las Vegas, said it was weighing its options, which could include an appeal to federal court. It said the ruling is the result of union allegations that were asserted in what spokeswoman Lori Nelson called "yet another strong-arm tactic in the union's ongoing campaign of harassment against our company and aggressive quest to organize our team members."

A three-member panel of the NLRB issued an order rejecting an appeal by Station and upholding the bulk of the findings of an administrative law judge, who in September 2011 found there had been 82 violations arising from events mostly in 2010.

The board ordered Station to offer to rehire two employees the board says were unlawfully fired for their union activities and to pay them back pay, though records show both workers have already been rehired.

The company was also ordered to make whole another worker for her loss of work opportunities due to her union activities and to remove from its files any reference to "unlawful discipline" imposed on two more employees.

The company was also told to post notices saying it will not fire or discriminate against workers for supporting the Culinary Union; and that it will not engage in other specific conduct.

The union has been unsuccessful in organizing Station workers.

But it praised today's ruling and issued a statement quoting a Santa Fe Station cocktail server, Dawn Vaseur, as saying, "This is a tremendous victory for all workers at Stations. We hope this decision will lead to a fair process to decide whether to have union representation without management interference and intimidation."

The Culinary Union's analysis of the 89-page ruling said that the NLRB added violatons to the September 2011 findings, resulting in 87 confirmed unfair labor practice counts.

The union statement was titled "Largest Verdict Issued Against Nevada Gaming Company."

Nelson disagreed with that interpretation of the ruling.

"Today's findings by the NLRB are by no means a 'verdict,' as touted by the Culinary Union, rather it requires our company to remedy the situation by posting a 'Notice to Employees,'" she said.

Station has said that if the Culinary wants to try to represent its workers, it needs to do so through an election process. The Culinary has insisted on a card-check procedure like the one commonly used at Strip casinos.

In the case decided today, the Culinary Union initially filed more than 400 charges against Station. Most of the charges were withdrawn or dismissed, resulting in the administrative law judge last year finding violations in 82 instances.

Examples of the conduct documented in the ruling included Station managers adopting a "discriminatory" rule barring employees from engaging in union activities in the parking garage at Santa Fe Station, directing Red Rock Resort employees not to wear union buttons and ordering Palace Station workers not to discuss "issues of common concern" at preshift meetings.

Other incidents involved a Fiesta Henderson supervisor following a worker during her shift, which was described as "surveillance," and barring her from speaking to co-workers after she started wearing a union button.

Additional incidents involved "coercive interrogations and other unlawful statements," "adverse employment actions" and "discriminatory discipline" involving union supporters.

In another incident, Station threatened employees with "Sound Byte Alerts" involving anti-union information that urged them not to sign cards supportive of the union and that lacked context, resulting in employees feeling threatened by the company.

The order Station is required to post informs workers that federal law gives them the right to form, join or assist a union; to act together with other employees for workers' benefit and protection; and to "choose not to engage in any of these protected activities."

The notice says Station will not engage in a long series of practices including threatening employees with reprisals, additional work or losing benefits if they choose the union as their bargaining agent.

For instance, the notice says, "We will not threaten employees by inviting them to quit their employment because they support the union" and "We will not promise increased benefits and/or improved terms and conditions of employment to dissuade them from supporting the union."

Today's ruling followed one issued in June that included victories for both Station and the union.

That order upheld an administrative law judge ruling finding Station violated labor law in one instance, but finding it innocent of six more charges.

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  1. I am shocked, shocked to learn the NLRB sided with a union.

  2. The real message here is that as an employer you have no rights under the current administration and the NLRB. The real message is that you will have a union regardless of what you want, that the union will strike and bully and coerce and intimidate and threaten and use any thug tactics they can to take what they want.