Striking responseUnions march even as regulators approve a takeover plan for Aladdin Hotel & Casino
The suitors for the Aladdin Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip got what they were looking for when their plans to take over the resort out of bankruptcy were recently approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
A group enterprise consisting of Planet Hollywood, Bay Harbour Management and Starwood Hotels & Resorts bought the financially beleaguered property last year for $637 million-about half of what the four-year-old property cost to build. Under the regulator-approved plan, the group will take over operations of the property.
According to reports in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the group intends to spend about $100 million over the next 15 months to improve the property's façade, fix design flaw, improve the casino and add amenities such as restaurants, a 1,300-seat showroom and a 500-seat TV studio.
The property is expected to take on the Planet Hollywood brand name by 2006. Planet Hollywood CEO Robert Earl said the property will immediately start to book headline entertainers to recoup customers.
One group watching the management change at the Aladdin closely is the Las Vegas Culinary Union. Indeed, in what has become a recurring ritual, demonstrators from the Culinary Union and other labor organizations recently gathered outside the property, protesting what they say has been the resort's unwillingness to recognize the unions and their efforts to organize Aladdin workers.
Union members said they hope one of the changes the new Aladdin owners are prepared to make is meeting with the unions.
"We want to send a message to the group led by Planet Hollywood that we still want the union at the Aladdin and we hope they take a different tack than the current management has when they take over in late August or early September," Culinary spokeswoman Maya Holmes told the Las Vegas-Review-Journal. "We want to welcome them to Las Vegas, but at the same time let them know unless the labor dispute is resolved, it will continue and they'll end up inheriting it."
The Culinary Union filed more than 90 complaints against the Aladdin with the National Labor Relations Board last year. Among the claims were the union's allegations that Aladdin executives and managers threatened workers with loss of wages and jobs if they tried to organize.
In March, the union released a petition claimed to be signed by a majority of Aladdin workers demanding a union contract.
The Aladdin has contested the claims and won a NLRB case when a judge decided the property could allow for a secret ballot election over whether employees want to organize-a move the union staunchly opposed.
"At the Aladdin, we are proud of our track record of respecting and protecting our employees' rights to job security, fair wages and secure benefits," said Aladdin President Bill Timmins.