by Kerstan Szczepanski
Culinary Local 226 set a strike deadline for Tuesday, May 9th, 6:00am at Valley Hospital (620 Shadow Lane). “Valley Hospital is union busting and is trying to take away good Culinary Union health care and pension from workers. Valley Hospital employees have been unionized for over 40 years and they are essential workers who haven’t had a contractual raise in seven years and they deserve one,” said Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, in a press release on Friday, May 5th.
Culinary Union has scheduled last day negotiations with Valley Hospital for Monday, May 8, 2023 at 11:00am. If negotiations fail, workers will walkout at 6am Tuesday with picketing set to begin at 6:30am.
In their press release, the union states: “Since 2017 Valley Hospital has given its housekeeping and dietary workers $0 in contractual raises. Culinary Union represents approximately 90 housekeeping, cooks, cashiers, kitchen workers, and stewards at Valley Hospital. They did not receive any bonus or hazard pay while they worked on the frontline through the COVID-19 pandemic. At the negotiation table, Valley Hospital initially proposed a $3 per hour wage cut but has since proposed a small raise increase (1.5% from current rates). However, the hospital has also proposed to strip these workers of their premium-free union healthcare as well as gutting the union contract by stripping away job security protections.”
While the most impactful, the impending strike is just the latest in a series of challenges between Valley Hospital and Culinary. The union has some 32 open unfair labor charges against the hospital with the National Labor Relations Board.
Pappageorge will appear with hospital workers for remarks at 11am on Tuesday, and Culinary Union members from the Strip and Downtown will join the picket line after their shifts at 5:30pm, with picketing scheduled to end at 6:30pm. Picketing will continue day to day until negotiations are resolved.
As of this writing Monday morning, neither Valley Hospital nor its corporate parent Universal Health Services could be reached for comment.
STATEMENT by Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge regarding a Valley Hospital strike deadline extension:
In negotiations today, Valley Hospital made significant proposals, but it’s not enough. In order to continue progress, the Culinary Union negotiating committee voted today to extend the strike deadline by 10-days to Friday, May 19, 2023 at 6:00am. The Culinary Union urges Valley Hospital to do the right thing and settle a fair contract that protects worker’s health care and pension, and provides significant raises to deal with inflation and the rising cost of living.
“I’m willing to go on strike because I’m fighting for my future and my family’s wellbeing,” says Karen Espinoza, a cook at Valley Hospital for 4 years. “I feel very unappreciated by the company – it’s been seven years since workers have had a raise and the cost of living has gone up, but our wages haven’t. My coworkers and I are united and we aren’t second-class. We aren’t going to give up until we win a strong union contract.”
*STRIKE deadline: Friday, May 19th at 6:00am –
*6:00am: The strike at Valley Hospital begins as workers walk off the job and picketing on the strike line begins.
*5:30pm: Culinary Union members from the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas join the picket line after their shifts.
*6:00pm: Civil disobedience in front of Valley Hospital.
How Strike Can Affect the Rest of Nevada
Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.
The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.
The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest Latinx/Black/AAPI/immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project.
The Culinary Union has a diverse membership which is 55% women and 45% immigrants. The demographics of Culinary Union members are approximately: 54% Latinx, 18% white, 15% Asian, 12% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples.
Culinary Union members work as: Guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting and winning for working families in Nevada for 88 years.