So Is Sheldon Adelson For Labor Unions Or Against Them?

March 24, 2015
So Is Sheldon Adelson For Labor Unions Or Against Them?

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), backed by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, is taking a new approach in its attempt to advance the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

RAWA is a bill in Congress that would outlaw many forms of online gaming currently regulated by state gaming commissions and lotteries. A hearing on the proposed bill is set to take place on Wednesday March 25 before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.

Group asserts that legal online gambling is bad for union jobs

Last week, CSIG decided to take the angle that online gambling hurts union jobs. That may seem innocent enough, until you learn the history of Las Vegas Sands and unions.

Las Vegas Sands owns three casinos in the U.S. and more throughout the world. The company employs about 50,000 people. Las Vegas Sands has been successful in stopping labor organization within its company, although its security guards in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania are closer than ever to entering collective bargaining.

Adelson and his company’s disdain for unions have been widely reported. Venetian and its sister property Palazzo are rare non-union shops on the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Sands itself is bad for union jobs

Sands was unionized when Adelson acquired it. The classic casino was shuttered and all employees let go to develop a new resort on the property. The Venetian opened in 1999, but without the inclusion of labor unions. This started a lengthy battle with the local Culinary Union, a powerful entity in the state of Nevada.

Protesters took to the sidewalk in front of Venetian when it learned unions may not be able to organize at the new resort in 1999. The sidewalks were in an easement on private property belonging to Las Vegas Sands.  The company demanded police arrest the protesters on the sidewalk within its property.  Las Vegas police declined to arrest or cite protesters.

Las Vegas Sands filed a request for an injunction in an attempt to prevent protesters from exercising their rights under the First Amendment on the sidewalk in front of Venetian. The defendants included the Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas, Las Vegas Metro Police, and a number of local unions. That attempt failed and protests were allowed to continue.

Las Vegas Sands appealed to the Ninth Circuit and the lower court’s decision was upheld. The Supreme Court denied the Venetian’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

CSIG taking the angle of attempting to draw sympathy from labor unions is interesting, considering the lobbying group’s sponsor and company’s history on the topic.

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