Fired Latino workers from Station Casinos led members of the Culinary and Bartenders unions in the city’s largest civil disobedience in over a decade to protest the company’s treatment and firing of Latino workers on June 2, 2011. The large protest came as Station Casinos completes the final stages of its bankruptcy restructuring. Over 1000 people rallied while 150 were arrested after they sat down in two Sahara Avenue traffic lanes in front of Palace Station near Interstate 15 and not far from the Las Vegas Strip.
The protest included street theater to draw attention to the company’s treatment of Latino workers, failure to provide wage increases and retirement contributions, and higher costs for worker health plans.
Station Casinos is the subject of the largest Unfair Labor Practice case ever filed against a Nevada gaming company by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Many of the government’s 201 charges against the company affect Latino workers. Eight of the ten worker organizers who have been fired by Station Casinos are Latino; two have since been reinstated. Over 90 percent of the workers who were called by the government to testify against the company are Latino.
The government has charged the company with allegedly using tactics including harassment, threats, retaliatory firings and disciplines, and the solicitation of customer complaints to impede worker efforts to form a union. The government’s seven-month prosecution of the company ended in May and, in a surprise move, Station Casinos called no witnesses in its defense. During the course of the trial, the government’s charges against the company grew from 168 to 201 alleged violations of federal labor laws. A decision in the case is expected later this year.
Teresa Debellonia was one of the workers fired by Station Casinos after she began exercising her right to form a union. After the NLRB charged the company with allegedly retaliating against her because of her union activity and appearance as a government witness in the NLRB’s case against Station Casinos, the company reinstated her with back pay and no loss of seniority. “I am a mother and I want a better future for my children,” said Debellonia, a Guest Room Attendant at Green Valley Ranch Resort Casino. “I’m happy to be back at work, but I want Station Casinos to treat its workers equally and fairly.”
Since the 2007 management-led buyout allowed a small group of company insiders to take $660 million out of the company, workers at Station Casinos have not had a raise, have had the cost of their health insurance increased, have had no employer contribution to their 401k retirement accounts, and have seen the loss of thousands of jobs.