Trump Hotel employees in Las Vegas secure a contract with powerful Culinary Workers Union

It’s owned by President-elect Donald Trump and is among a handful of hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that is not unionized.

But that will change soon.

For more than a year, Trump and his staff at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas have fought efforts by employees to join Culinary Workers Union Local 226. But a four-year contract announced by the union on Wednesday will offer Trump employees annual wage increases, a pension and family healthcare, among other benefits.

In Nevada, the culinary union is the state's largest and most powerful, representing nearly 55,000 workers who serve cocktails and prepare food at hotels throughout the state. A majority of the union’s members are Latino.

Bethany Khan, a spokeswoman for the union, said the contract with Trump was a step in the right direction. “We’ve been picketing and protesting for much of the last year and here we are finally with a contract,” Khan said. “We’re very, very pleased.”

In December 2015, nearly 500 workers at the Trump International voted in favor of joining the union. Yet Trump and managers at the hotel refused to negotiate, assailing the vote as rigged. Managers at the hotel had filed more than a dozen objections with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging intimidation and forgery by union officials in the vote. (Once Trump becomes president, he’ll have the authority to appoint members to the board.) Each of the claims was either withdrawn by Trump or dismissed by the labor board.

On Wednesday, a spokeswoman representing Trump’s hotel declined to comment about the new contract.

The pact with the Culinary Workers Union wasn’t the only labor victory involving Trump. In Washington, Unite Here Local 25 announced an agreement to permit an organizing campaign for employees at the recently opened Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office building near the White House. 

Throughout the presidential campaign, Nevada Democrats castigated Trump for not negotiating a union contract for his employees — many of whom earn far less than workers at other hotels along the Strip. Political observers were baffled by Trump’s resistance to allow his employees to unionize given his past support for organized labor and his populist pitch to working-class voters.

“He doesn’t want a battle with unions hanging over his head as president,” said Jon Ralston, a longtime Nevada political journalist, about the four-year contract. 

In July, a complaint filed against the hotel on behalf of two employees who supported an effort to join the union was settled. The complaint alleged that one employee was fired and another was denied a transfer to a full-time job because of their vocal support for hotel workers' bid to join the union.

The hotel, co-owned and managed by the Trump Organization, agreed to pay a total of $11,200 in lost wages to the employees, according to a statement from the union.

Ahead of a presidential debate in Las Vegas in October, the culinary union helped organize the placement of dozens of taco trucks outside Trump’s Vegas hotel — an effort to call attention to the efforts to win a contract and to unflattering statements by a Trump surrogate about Mexicans and taco trucks “on every corner” of the United States.

Carmen Llarull has worked in housekeeping at Trump’s Las Vegas hotel for four years. The new contract, she said, will ensure employees have more respect. 

“It’s very difficult to work for a company when there is no contract,” said Llarull, 64, noting she believes she now has more job security. “We just had to constantly fight for respect; now it’ll be a little easier and better.” 

kurtis.lee@latimes.com

Twitter: @kurtisalee

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UPDATES:

5:50 p.m.: This article was updated with additional comments. 

The article was originally published at 2:15 p.m. 

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