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Vegas union backers hold hunger strike at casino
by Cristina Silva Associated Press
Apr 20, 2012 | 2307 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas union supporters have launched a seven-day hunger strike to protest a casino operator’s alleged attempts to prevent workers from organizing.

Roughly 17 protesters, including 10 current Station Casinos Inc. employees, have pledged to consume only water through Tuesday. The fast began Wednesday at a makeshift camp outside the casino operator’s oldest property, Palace Station, near the Las Vegas Strip. Dozens of other protesters who have not committed to the hunger strike are also staying at the camp.

Organizers spent a month training the protesters to fast, said Yvanna Cancela, the Culinary Union’s spokeswoman in Las Vegas. Medical professionals met with the participants before the protest started and plan to examine the workers for health issues every morning. Clergymen from various faiths are being brought in each day to bless the protesters.

The union and Station Casinos have been locked in an ugly, years-long battle over the company’s 13,000 employees.

In recent months, Station Casinos launched an aggressive advertisement campaign that characterized the union as opportunistic and indifferent to its workers’ needs.

Spokeswoman Lori Nelson said the hunger strike is the union’s latest “disingenuous” publicity stunt aimed at harassing the company and growing its membership.

Nelson said Station employees receive good wages and benefits and have not shown interest in joining the union. The casino operator has offered to allow its employees to hold a secret-ballot election, but the union said Station Casinos is intimidating its employees.

Meanwhile, the union’s publicity machine is aimed at persuading employees that they need to organize against Station Casinos. They have also urged casino patrons to take their business elsewhere until the labor disagreement has been resolved.

Station Casinos owns 17 properties throughout Southern Nevada that target locals.
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