Union Workers Picket In Las Vegas, Claim Robots Are Taking Away Jobs

Ethan MillerGetty Images

Contracts expired for over 57,000 workers on June 1, 2018. Since then, union workers negotiated new labor deals with several Las Vegas strip property owners, such as Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. They are also slowly piecing back together a vote which would ratify contracts with the Stratosphere on Monday. The problem, reports the Los Angeles Times, is the 13 properties that employ about 8,000 union workers who still are without their contracts.

Thus was the reasoning behind picketing on the streets in Las Vegas yesterday. These union workers are not striking, despite numerous votes on a strike weeks before the contracts’ expiration date. A shocking 99 percent were in favor of the strike. Among their complaints is anger over automation. Robots, they say, are stealing union worker jobs.

Robots are taking over positions on the Vegas strip, inside casinos, elevating their profiles in instances at places such as The Tipsy Robot. That casino features two bar-tending robots in the shape of robotic arms seen employed in car factories, which saw automation replace human workers. Union workers fear the same fate is approaching them. While humans are still an integral part of the automotive industry, a Chinese factory in Dongguan City replaced 90 percent of its workers with automation in 2017, cited Futurism.

Linda Hunt, a 57-year-old food server at El Cortez Hotel and Casino, told reporters how she was worried about the technology overtaking human jobs.

“We want to make sure we’re not lost to the robots. We want to make sure that they don’t just show up next week — that we have some time to adjust and train for new jobs over the next five years.”

Another union worker protest in Vegas
Union workers picket on the Las Vegas Strip outside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on June 14, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The demonstration was in response to stalled negotiations with the hotel-casino, where 2,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union had been without a contract for more than two years. Featured image credit: Ethan MillerGetty Images

Workers chanted “This is a union town,” while picketing around the D Casino Hotel. Temperatures spiked to 110 degrees Fahrenheit as these women and men continued their walk later in the afternoon around the Westgate Hotel and Casino. Authorities had issued a excessive heat warning prior to the picket. These union workers were so determined to see their cause through to the end, that they carried on regardless, bringing along a canopy to shade hundreds of workers in their protest.

Along with the concern over addressing the use of robots, wages were a big priority to the union workers in attendance to the picket. Security was also brought up in length, in the shadow of last year’s mass shooting when Stephen Paddock opened fire from his 32nd-floor suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Bethany Khan, a union spokeswoman, remarked on the important issues being brought up. Khan says she wishes the new contracts to agree on protection of workers, who may possibly be caught up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody if they lose temporary worker status.