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Strike scheduled to start June 1 at 9 downtown Las Vegas casinos if contracts aren't reached

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Hotel workers and bartenders plan to strike at nine downtown Las Vegas casinos next month if contracts aren't reached, labour leaders announced Wednesday.

Officials with the Culinary and Bartenders unions said employees are prepared to walk off the job at 5 a.m. June 1 at The D, Four Queens, Fremont, Main Street Station, El Cortez, Binion's, Golden Gate, The Plaza, and Las Vegas Club.

"For nearly 80 years, our unions have made casino jobs good jobs in Las Vegas," Geoconda Arguello-Kline, leader of the Culinary Union, said in a statement. "Our members downtown deserve to earn a decent living by working hard under a fair contract. They should not be left behind as hundreds of millions of new investments pour in for downtown revitalization."

There are about 2,000 union employees at the nine casinos, according to union spokeswoman Bethany Khan. She said a majority of the workers at each business are members of the unions, which cover all aspects of the casinos including food and beverage, housekeeping, cocktails, and bell desks.

Contracts at the casinos expired June 1, 2013, and union members voted in March to authorize a strike whenever leaders called one.

The Golden Nugget casino downtown reached a five-year agreement with the unions last month, and negotiations with El Cortez, Fremont and Main Street casinos are scheduled in advance of the planned strike, Khan said.

MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp., which together control a majority of properties on the Strip, previously negotiated new five-year union pacts. The independent Stratosphere, Riviera, Tropicana, and Treasure Island casinos have also settled.

The agreement reached in November with MGM, covering 26,000 of the unions' 55,000 members, keeps employee's health care costs from increasing, includes provisions for more flexible scheduling and aims to bring back workers laid off from shuttered eateries during the recession.

The last strike in Las Vegas was at the Golden Gate casino in 2002, Khan said. The most infamous dispute started in 1991 at the Frontier casino and lasted six years, four months and 10 days.

Union officials said they are spreading the word to event planners and potential guests at the downtown casinos, telling them their visits could be disrupted by picketing.

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