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Caesars reaches tentative deal with culinary workers union

Las Vegas casino workers may strike

A strike that threatened to cripple Las Vegas' world-famous resorts appears to have been averted.

According to a tweet posted Friday morning by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, a tentative agreement has been reached that would cover about a quarter of the 50,000 hotel and casino workers who had threatened to walk off the job for the first time in more than three decades.

A spokesperson for Caesars Entertainment confirmed the tentative pact in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.

The culinary union said the new five-year deal covers about 12,000 workers at nine casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. 

Details of the accord were not immediately available, but wages, workplace training and job security had been the main sticking points in negotiations that started in February. 

Caesars' properties covered by the tentative agreement are Bally's, Flamingo, Harrah's, Paris, Planet Hollywood, The Cromwell, The Linq and Caesars Palace, including Nobu.

Casino-hotels that could still see a strike, if the deal between workers and Caesars sticks, include Aria, Bellagio, Tropicana, Stratosphere and Golden Nugget.

Tens of thousands of bartenders, housekeepers, bellmen and other unionized workers at 34 casino-hotels on the Strip and in downtown Las Vegas have sought a new, five-year contract since February.

The current contracts expired at midnight.

Ninety-nine percent of about 25,000 workers voted last week to authorize a strike after the contracts lapsed.

The union last voted for a strike in 2002 but reached an accord before employees walked out. 

The last strike, in 1984, lasted nearly 70 days and cost the city and workers tens of millions of dollars.

The average hourly wage of Las Vegas Strip workers is $23, including benefits such as premium-free health care, a pension and a 401(k) retirement savings plan, and $20,000 down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Caesars workers have asked for an increase of 4.2 percent effective Friday, and annual increases of about 4 percent thereafter. The union previously said the company had offered an approximate 2.8 percent increase for each of the five years.