For the first time, hourly employees of Station Casinos attended the company’s bankruptcy proceedings in Reno last week. Their presence was noted by the parties involved and it was the first time worker retention was a significant topic in the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. The workers are members of an Informal Committee of Station Employees that was formed several weeks ago to give hourly employees a voice in the bankruptcy proceeding involving Station Casinos, Inc.
“I joined the Committee because I want to make sure people understand how we will be affected by their decisions,” said Omar Mendoza, Food Server, Sunset Station Hotel & Casino. “We have bills to pay, kids to feed, and we need to keep roofs over our heads. I want to make sure our jobs and benefits are protected. Las Vegas doesn’t need more people out of work, unable to pay their bills, losing their homes, and filing for bankruptcy.”
The Committee filed an objection on April 21, 2010 with the bankruptcy court challenging the company’s proposed reorganization plan, which is supported by two of its lenders, Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase. In its objection, the Committee cited several plan flaws, including its failure to meaningfully address worker retention. The Committee also called on the Court to order the company to end its anti-union campaign, which could jeopardize a successful reorganization. The company’s anti-union campaign has resulted in the filing of over 200 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
“Until now, no one has spoken for Station Casinos employees in this case,” said the Committee’s legal counsel Richard G. McCracken. “Given the certainty that there will be sweeping ownership changes at Station Casinos, we want the Court and the parties involved to hear from the company’s employees about what is happening to them, their concerns for the future, and the need for meaningful workforce retention provisions in any proposed reorganization plan.”
There is precedent for making workforce retention a key consideration in the Chapter 11 reorganization of a gaming company in Nevada. In the Aladdin bankruptcy, the Court made worker retention a requirement for consideration of any bid to purchase the Las Vegas Strip resort casino. Also, it is a standard practice in the Las Vegas gaming industry to retain the bulk of hourly workers in the event of a change in casino ownership, as a result of provisions in collective bargaining agreements between the Culinary and Bartenders unions and the majority of casino employers on the Las Vegas Strip and in the downtown.
Station workers at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Reno, May 4.
The Committee of employees is represented by the same law firm, McCracken, Stemerman & Holsberry, that represents the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, and Bartenders Union, Local 165. The Committee was formed with the assistance of the unions, which are paying the Committee’s legal fees.
The next scheduled hearing in the case will be on May 27-28.