Culinary supporters picket on Strip in effort to shame the Cosmopolitan
A sea of red-shirted picketers collectively looked up from Las Vegas Boulevard and shook their fingers at the Cosmopolitan.
"Shame on you!" they yelled. "Shame on you!"
Marking the third major demonstration this year, hundreds of Culinary Union members blocked a lane of traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard Friday night, waving pickets and chanting in front of the Cosmopolitan.
Despite triple-digit temperatures, the members gathered in the sweltering heat to support some 2,000 Culinary workers who have been clocking into the Strip resort for two years without a contract.
"It don't matter how hot it is," said Luz Solis, a 45-year-old housekeeper at the Paris. "We're here for our brothers and sisters at the Cosmopolitan.
Cosmopolitan officials have been hard-pressed to ink a deal with the union, which is currently in similar negotiations with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. The Culinary seeks health insurance, 40-hour work weeks and job security.
"I'm willing to give up comfort and my air conditioning to stand out here and fight for what workers need," said Chashious O'Brien, a 30-year-old worker on call. "I'm here to bring the Cosmopolitan to Strip standard."
Metro Police stood guard and directed jammed up traffic around the picketers, who chanted, "No contracts, no peace!"
Picketers danced to a mix of songs pumped out of loud speakers. Dancing among the sea of red shirts accompanied "We Are Family," by Sister Sledge.
Just after 5:30 p.m., picketers put down their signs and clergy members led a prayer from a truck bed.
After a few words from Cosmopolitan workers, Culinary president Geoconda Arguello-Kline took the mic and shared her praise for the workers looking up to her from Las Vegas Boulevard.
"I feel proud to be in front if you ... it's an honor to represent you," she said.
Throngs of workers joined her a short time later, chanting, "Cosmopolitan look around, Las Vegas is a Union town!"
Then, "We are one! We are one!"
Picketers began to clear the boulevard shortly after 6 p.m., wrapping up the roughly hourlong protest. Police unblocked the lane around 7 p.m., alleviating traffic.
Cosmopolitan officials said they were prepared for the protest.
“The majority of the Las Vegas Strip is in contract negotiations with the union,” said Amy Rossetti, the Cosmopolitan’s vice president of public relations. “The Cosmopolitan management continues to negotiate in good faith with the union. Our highest priority is the safety and comfort of our guests and CoStars.”
Rossetti said they have been working with Metro Police “to ensure the safety” of guests.
This demonstration is not related to ongoing contract negotiations with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, according to Culinary spokeswoman Yvanna Cancela. The old contracts expired June 1.
Officials at both MGM and Caesars recently extended their contracts with the Culinary, which represents 40,000 hotel workers.
Friday's picketing marked the third such demonstration in six months. The last one happened March 20, when more than 2,000 Culinary worker picketed outside the Cosmopolitan. About 100 more workers sat in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, blocked traffic and let Metro Police arrest them in solidarity for Cosmopolitan workers.
As the Culinary began to clear out Friday, they had a final message for the Cosmopolitan, the same message they left with the resort every time they've taken the boulevard: "We'll be back! We'll be back!"