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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Wynn Dealers go Union in Landslide Vote

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Maybe it wasn't a Reagan/McGovern landslide, but at the end of the day, dealers at Wynn Las Vegas voted nearly 3-1 in favor of representation by the Transportation Workers Union of America. The final tally of 444 in favor of union representation to 149 opposed is a firm response to the new tip-sharing policy implanted by the Wynn last year, which resulted in a 15-20% decrease in take-home pay by Wynn dealers.

In a meeting with dealers prior to the union vote, Wynn acknowledged that the tip-sharing policy was a large reason behind the vote. "I got it wrong, I hurt you and I apologize," Wynn said. "Sometimes people with good intentions make mistakes." Wynn's address was recorded by one of the dealers present and posted to an internet message board.

"This was my mistake and I only have myself to blame," Wynn said. "I have a 40-year history of taking care of the people I work with.

"What this caused was the loss of the feeling of family warmth and happiness that we had here. I got it wrong. I tried to do right for the bosses but I hurt you. I made a mistake," he also said.

The vote must still be ratified by the National Labor Relations Board, but with such a wide margin of victory, union organizer Frank McCann, Jr. sees no reason for delays in the contract negotiation process. "We'll get information from the Wynn people and we have what the dealers would like to see happen, and we believe we can get something done quickly," McCann said.

The Transport Workers is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and represents 130,000 employees across the country in mass transportation, airlines, railroads, utilities, higher education and municipalities. This vote is a far cry from the limited success the TWU experienced in its last foray into Las Vegas Strip casinos, where votes were held at over a dozen casinos, but the union was only able to win votes at the New Frontier, Stratosphere and Tropicana.

Casino giant MGM Mirage issued a statement last week in response to the tip-sharing policy, denying any rumors that MGM Mirage properties would go to a tip-sharing policy. According to a memo issued by Terry Lanni, CEO of MGM Mirage, "Actions taken by other companies, legislative hearings held on the practice, and Dealer organization activity at other Las Vegas resorts all lead to an understandable level of uncertainty.

"I want to make the position of MGM MIRAGE on this topic clear and unequivocal. Dealer tips are their income. The money they earn belongs to them. Our company will not implement any type of tip-sharing program at any of our resorts. This commitment extends to all our casinos and will be policy at CityCenter when it opens at 2009."

MGM Mirage is the only major casino operator to speak out publicly about the Wynn tip-sharing policy, and it begs the question of what the response would have been had the public outcry from dealers at most major casinos not been so strong and immediate. The Wynn policy marked a possible sea change in the way that casino dealers are compensated, and now it looks like it will be the first concession management makes in the union negotiations.

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