Casino strike threat fades
By Paul
Three Las Vegas casino operators reached a tentative deal with the union representing housekeepers and waitresses last Thursday, which considerably reduces the chances of a strike, which could significantly affect the Las Vegas Strip.

Park Place Entertainment Corp, Aztar Corp and Harrah’s Entertainment Inc all reached agreement with the union representing housekeepers and waitresses on Thursday, according to inside sources.

Park Place’s casino resorts include Caesar’s Palace and Bally’s, Aztar’s include the Tropicana, and Harrah’s include Harrah’s Las Vegas. Park Place said it would not discuss details of the agreement until it is ratified by a vote from the union membership.

Other casino operators including MGM Mirage and Mandalay Resort Group are to hold their own contract negotiations this week. MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said his company is confident an agreement can be reached with the union, which represents about 50,000 cooks, waitresses and housekeepers at most major Las Vegas casinos.

'We're very pleased to see that a contract agreement has been reached,' Feldman said. Hopefully we'll be able to resolve the remaining issues we have and have an agreement by the end of the weekend.'

Mandalay Resort President Glenn Schaeffer was also upbeat about the prospects of a settlement:

'These are clearly indicators of a solution before June 1,' he told investors during a conference call to discuss the company's fiscal first-quarter results.

Although agreement has yet to be reached by all parties, the first tentative agreements could spur other casino operators on to do the same. The current contract expires on May 31. Union members voted overwhelmingly last week to authorize strike action if a new agreement is not reached by the deadline.

Sticking points in the negotiations include rising health care costs and housekeeper working hours.

Negotiations with the other major casinos are scheduled for the next couple of days. A strike would be devastating to the Las Vegas economy, which is recovering strongly after the post 9/11 economic downturn.

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