Crowds smaller as Culinary begins weekly picket of Cosmopolitan

Culinary Union protest continue outside the Cosmopolitan, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013.

Cosmopolitan Culinary Protest - July 31, 2013

Cosmopolitan housekeeper Janet Nunez speaks as the California School Employees Association, in town for a convention, join Culinary workers to picket the Cosmopolitan Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The Culinary Union scaled back its prolonged protest campaign Friday, limiting the picket line to the sidewalk in front of the Cosmopolitan.

Making its fifth protest since January, the Culinary used Friday's downsized picket to usher in the start of a weekly campaign against the 3,000-room Strip resort, where 2,000 workers have been showing up to work without a contract for two years. That's also how long contract talks have been stalled.

Theses weekly protests will be smaller than previous jaunts, which often blocked multiple lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard.

The Culinary's last two pickets rolled along the Strip with the support of separate labor unions. In a July 31 protest, 1,500 blue-shirted members of the California School Employees Association fell in, ballooning the group to 3,000 bodies. This time, members of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, a union in town for a convention, joined the Culinary for a protest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The prolonged protest schedule has given Krystal Castellon hope.

The 24-year-old Chicago native and mother of two has been working at the Cosmopolitan as a housekeeper for two years without a contract.

"We're going to fight until the end," she said. "We're going to fight until we get contracts."

As Castellon blended into the animated picket, her fellow workers banged drums and chanted, "If we don't get no contracts, you don't get no peace!"

Bosses of the $4 billion Cosmopolitan, owned by Deutsche Bank, have been hard-pressed to ink solid deals with the Culinary since the struggling resort opened in 2010. The Culinary's focus has been 40-hour workweeks, insurance, job security and what is known as a "successorship clause," which guarantees union contracts carry over in the event that someone buys the Cosmopolitan.

On the latest protest outside its doors, Cosmopolitan officials said they continue "to negotiate in good faith with the Culinary Union. We feel we have been making good progress on behalf of our CoStars and we are hopeful that progress can continue in a positive direction. As always, our highest priority is the safety and comfort of our guests and CoStars and we will continue to work with the authorities.”