by Kerstan Szczepanski
Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of Culinary Local 226 in Las Vegas, announced that Centerplate workers, who include cooks, dishwashers, concession cashiers, banquet workers and others working at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will hold a strike authorization vote on December 7 and 8. Dylan Schoenhard, banquet server for Centerplate at Las Vegas Convention Center said, “We have been busy at the convention center, with big shows like SEMA, but we need higher pay because everything is so much more expensive now, especially rent and housing.”
Said Pappageorge, “After the COVID-19 pandemic, convention business is booming again … The Las Vegas Convention Center generates billions in positive economic impact for Nevada per year, but the Centerplate workers who make that possible are getting left behind.” He also pointed out that negotiations are scheduled for November 29 and 30, so a strike could be avoided.
In fact, in a press conference on November 21, Sodexo workers and union leaders in Las Vegas and four other major convention cities–Orlando, Detroit, Sacramento, New Orleans–called on Sodexo to avoid labor disputes and possible strikes. Sodexo workers at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center announced that they have already voted to authorize a strike by 100 percent. Centerplate is owned by Sodexo. Nevada Culinary is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, which represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel and food service industries in North America.
While inflation has played a large part in financially pressuring workers, post-COVID economic rebound has not benefited workers like it has shareholders. Recouping financial loss from lack of work as well as a shrunken workforce has made bouncing back difficult. The LVCC had more than 50 percent fewer Sodexo workers in August 2022 than in February 2020. Factor in inflation, and convention center workers are not only working harder, but they are doing it for less.
“Sodexo workers need a raise, very simple,” said D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE. “We have taken strike votes and will potentially take more strike votes in the next few weeks … because we need to make sure we can provide for ourselves and our loved ones.”