With new video and second letter to governor, union continues organizing battle with Resorts World Las Vegas

With new video and second letter to governor, union continues organizing battle with Resorts World Las Vegas

  • John L. Smith
August 25, 2022 12:10 AM

In a second letter to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, the Las Vegas local of the International Union of Operating Engineers is again calling out Resorts World Las Vegas’s parent company Genting Group for what it alleges is its “troublesome ties to Chinese state-owned enterprises,” associations the labor organization claims could end up embarrassing Nevada’s largest industry.

The union has also released a YouTube video titled “Violating Workers Rights,” in which Resorts World employees describe Operating Engineers Local 501’s frustrated efforts to organize on the property.

Early optimism bolstered by a card-signature campaign that resulted in a super-majority of support collapsed after Resorts World management began lobbying workers in a manner that the union claims crossed the line. After an inquiry, the National Labor Relations Board has filed an unfair-labor-practices complaint in the matter.

For its part, Resorts World recently responded in a statement that the company “has fully complied with federal labor laws and respects the right of all workers to be represented by a union if they choose to do so.”

The letter and video are the latest volleys in the union’s attempt to organize more than 100 maintenance engineers and slot technicians at the Strip newest megaresort.

In an Aug. 11 letter to Sisolak, Las Vegas operating engineers Local 501 director of organizing Jose Soto elaborates on several allegations the union’s researchers raised in a previous letter to the state leader. Sisolak’s office responded to the labor organizations’ first missive by directing it to the state Gaming Control Board.

Following the first letter, in a statement Resorts World said it was in full compliance with all Nevada gaming regulations. Its officials were licensed by state gaming regulators earlier this year.

But that’s not stopping the union from pointing out a potentially embarrassing association between the Genting Group and Chinese petroleum giant Sinopec, which has long ties to Russian oil giants.

“Genting’s ties to Sinopec should concern regulators for countless reasons,” the letter states. “There have been numerous allegations of corruption and bribery against Sinopec executives. Sinopec’s operations across the globe have adversely affected diverse populations and the company’s own workforce.” Sinopec, the union claims, “continued to buy Russian oil in contradiction to ongoing Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.”

The letter goes on to assert that Sinopec maintains a 10 percent share of Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemical producer, and according to published reports is a substantial owner-investor in a $10 billion plastics plant in Eastern Siberia.

Local 501’s interests in Chinese and Russian politics aside, what it is really trying to do is more obvious: draw attention to its organizing struggle with the megaresort by turning up the heat on an international corporation that operates in numerous jurisdictions, some more sensitive to foreign investment portfolios than others. That includes Genting’s growing gaming and high-end tourism interests, in which Resorts World Las Vegas is a shiny star.

The union implored the governor to have the issues it’s raising examined carefully by Nevada gaming regulators.

“We urge Nevada regulators to take immediate steps to assess whether Genting Group’s divestiture of these Chinese SOE assets is an appropriate remedy to address this concerning association,” Local 501 organizing director Soto wrote.

In its own recent statement, Resorts World described its professional working relationship with service-worker giant Culinary Local 226, which represents nearly 2,000 emplooyees at the hotel.

While not directly addressing the ongoing NLRB complaint, the company reiterated its willingness to follow the organizing wishes of its workers.

“At no time did Resorts World Las Vegas engage in any unlawful practices and we wish only that our team members are able to make an informed choice about their future, and whether or not they wish to be represented by the Operating Engineers for purposes of collective bargaining. If the Operating Engineers wish this to happen, they should allow the votes to be counted.”

That sounds emphatic and confident.

So why am I still left with the strong suspicion that we still haven’t heard the last of this?