Steve Wynn, Union Buster
Using implausible deniability and Christian forgiveness against his own workers
Special Internet Edition 5-11-2007

This weekend, dealers at the Wynn resort in Gomorrah South vote on whether to bargain as one voice by organizing themselves as a union.

The unionization drive came after billionaire gambling mogul and fine art conoisseur Steve Wynn ordered that supervisors be allocated a portion of dealer tips.


Wynn Las Vegas casino dealers vote overwhelmingly for union

The Transport Workers Union, which won the first-ever union election for Nevada casino dealers in 2001, is again involved. TWU won three (Tropicana, Stratosphere and New Frontier) and lost eight in a three-month period. The union was criticized for sandwiching too many elections into too short a period of time. It was also handicapped by lack of a local base of organizers, needing to import people from other states.

Nonetheless, TWU was willing to take on a task more established Nevada unions were not. TWU did represent some transport workers in the southland, but nothing of the magnitude of a dozen strip hotels.

Wynn is employing the same union-busting tactics which successfully blunted some of the 2001 campaigns.

TWU stated in 2001 that it had an overwhelming number of authorization cards signed. Under federal labor law, only one of three workers (the dividing line is 30 percent) in a bargaining group needs to sign cards in order to trigger a secret-ballot election. No organizer in his or her right mind petitions the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election with less than 65 percent.

In Canada, if 55 percent of workers sign cards, a union is automatically recognized. In the U.S., it merely begins a process that makes elections in Florida and Ohio seem honest.

Imagine a presidential campaign in which all voters were forced to listen to every election speech by one side but none from the other. Americans should and would be outraged. But that's exactly what happens in the perverted process of union elections. In the country with the most repressive labor laws in the industrialized world, union elections are neither free nor fair.

Breaking the rules brings the equivalent of 20 lashes with a wet noodle after years of delay. From 1974 to 1993, the Culinary Union won every round in court against a coalition of northern Nevada restaurants and casinos. But the legal battle drastically diminished union representation in what was once a totally unionized environment.


After this column was distributed, I received this:

Andrew, just an FYI. Marty Levitt died two years ago (Oct. 21, 2004) in the Bay Area in California. Ray Isner and I worked with him a lot here in Las Vegas.

—Rob Rovere
IATSE Local 720

WIKIPEDIA/LABOR LAW: A detailed primer on union busting, liberally quoting Mr. Levitt, a man who made up for his sins.

Under U.S. labor law, employers win even when they lose.

Las Vegas author and reformed "union avoidance consultant" Martin Levitt estimates that more than 10,000 union-busting firms operate in the United States. Steve Wynn has hired some of these guys.

Here is today's frontline dispatch from Wynn dealers:

"As you probably know, Mark Garrity was already on property, and as soon as we filed for an election, the propaganda started flowing. Just yesterday (May 10) we had a mandatory meeting with Steve Wynn himself. He claimed to have no idea or knowledge that we were so upset or that anything was wrong. (In the meantime, Garrity, the union buster has been on property since October 2006, and his wife and nephew have been in Carson lobbying against 2 bills protecting tip earners).

"Wynn said he was sorry, give him a chance. Vote no for the union so that he may be able to have his current relationship with us and be able to work with us without any interference from someone else. I can't believe after all this time some people could still fall under a spell listening to that LIAR. But, some people did,"
the worker concluded.

This is one of the oldest techniques in the book. (Read Confessions of a Union Buster by Martin Jay Levitt with Terry Conrow, Crown Books, 1993.)

Most Americans have been coached in Christian forgiveness and second chances.

Management always uses this ploy — "please forgive us — we didn't know — give us a second chance to do better." Right after they beat the union drive, they forget their mealy-mouthed pious promises, go back to the policies which caused the hassle and start firing and intimidating people.

Once workers lose an election, they can't have another for at least a year. National Labor Relations Board appeals can take a decade. Any delay is a win for them.

Voting will take place this Saturday and Sunday. Polls close Sunday at 3:30 a.m.

WYNN WORKERS: Please inform your colleagues that they are being shucked and jived and will be skinned alive after the election.

Martin Levitt says in his book that he only lost five union drives out of more than 100 he worked in his shady career. The few defeats for management's thugs came when workers refused to break solidarity.

Don't let Steve Wynn bust you out.


Be well. Raise hell.


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Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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