Las Vegas Casino Union Welcomes VP Kamala Harris to MGM Grand

The Las Vegas casino union that represents 60,000 gaming industry workers throughout Nevada met this week with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss several pressing issues.

Las Vegas casino union Kamala Harris
Las Vegas casino union Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris tours the kitchen at MGM Grand on August 10, 2022. The Culinary Union, the predominant Las Vegas casino union, hosted the VP on her stop in Southern Nevada. (Image: Culinary Union)

The Culinary Union, an affiliate of the national Unite Here labor group, hosted a back-of-the-house tour with the VP at MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Harris was given an up-close look at how one of the Strip’s largest integrated resorts runs behind the scenes.

We were pleased to welcome the vice president of the United States. We invited her to meet with hospitality workers and we are so glad that she came,” said Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union.

Harris was in town for the primary purpose of speaking at the 2022 Constitutional Convention of the United Steelworkers, which was held at MGM Grand’s Marquee Ballroom. While Harris did not give a formal speech while meeting with the casino union, she addressed the steelworkers.

“When union wages are up, everybody’s wages go up,” said Harris, a staunch supporter of unions, as is President Joe Biden. “When workplaces are safer, all workplaces are safer. And when unions are strong, America is strong.”

Casino Union Talking Points

The Culinary Union told that the labor organization discussed various issues with the nation’s second-in-command.

Union brass said they chatted about the federal government’s high tip allocation rate, something the Culinary Union has called on the IRS to lower.

The tip allocation rate was resumed to 8% following a temporary reduction amid the pandemic. The IRS assumes an average tip rate of 8% on sit-down service at restaurants and bars. And that money is taxable income bartenders and waitstaff must report on their annual tax returns.

The Culinary Union, as well as Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, both Democrats, have also pleaded with the IRS to reduce the tip allocation default rate to 4-5%. They argue that the 8% current rate is taking much-needed money from workers’ checks amid ongoing high inflation.

The union also asked Harris to review its campaign seeking to cap further rent increases in North Las Vegas. Culinary claims private equity and real estate firms acquired housing communities and rental units amid the pandemic. They allege those companies are now price gouging residents with incessant rent increases.

“We had a good conversation about the high IRS tip allocation rate and the taxes they are imposing on working families, and about the massive housing and rent profiteering that is happening throughout the country, especially here in Nevada,” Pappageorge said. “We asked Harris to stand with us and take on these issues that working families are facing.”

Harris 2024 Odds

Political bettors aren’t confident that Kamala Harris will become the first woman president of the United States by way of the 2024 election. Betting exchange Smarkets gives her just a 5% chance of securing at least 270 Electoral College votes in a little more than two years.

Despite the FBI events at his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate this week, former President Donald Trump is the betting front-runner with a 23% chance of winning in 2024.

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