Hard Rocking Victory


After years of legal action in federal court, NLRB charges for unfair labor practices, and numerous protests and rallies, valet parking attendants at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas voted unanimously recently to approve their first Teamster contract. The agreement provides a substantial wage increase, a Teamsters pension plan, and a health and welfare plan paid in full by the employer.

“This contract is a victory for our parking valet members at Hard Rock and it’s a victory for all Teamsters in Local 986,” said Chris Griswold, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 986. “For eight long years these workers stood together and withstood management’s anti-union tactics and delays. Their endurance and solidarity is an inspiration to Teamsters everywhere.”

In 2009, the valet parking attendants voted for Teamster representation.

Hotel management waged an aggressive anti-union campaign that lasted more than eight years but the workers never lost their faith or their strength to fight.

One of the most important aspects in winning the first contract was a push from the Teamsters Capital Strategies Department which brought the concerns about management’s attack on workers’ rights to investors of Brookfield Asset Management which acquired the Hard Rock property in 2011.

In a letter to Brookfield investors, General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall warned that management’s aggressive antiunion campaign at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel had proven costly and counterproductive, damaging morale of front-line workers and sparking informational picketing outside the hotel.

The regional office of the NLRB had issued multiple complaints against management alleging threats and retaliation against workers for their support of the union. Management’s strategy, Hall argued, had created unnecessary financial and reputational risk for Brookfield investors.

This letter caught the attention of Pat Stryker, the Local 237 representative on the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS) board, one of the five funds of the city’s retirement system.

NYCRS has a strong Responsible Contractor Policy which makes clear their interest in the condition of workers employed by its investment managers and the companies in which they invest.

The Teamsters secured the support of other trustees to delay a vote on hundreds of dollars in new investments to Brookfield until the asset manager could demonstrate its commitment to the principles of the Responsible Contractor Policy.

Within a month, the Teamster valets secured a strong contract.

“This victory should send a strong message to investment managers everywhere,” said Ken Hall. We don’t want the hard earned pension assets of our members financing the attack against workers.”