If I had a chance to reclaim the past, I know I would choose to welcome back the Mafia.

My Point of View / By Rolando Larraz
I never forget that there are always three sides to every story — yours, mine, and the truth; accidentally reading the press release the culinary union sent to this publication reminded me of that.
The press release read, word for word: “Supporters of workers organizing at the Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas will picket business partners of the Palms and its owners to demand the Las Vegas casino respect its employees’ democratic vote to unionize. Workers at the casino hotel voted by 84 percent to unionize in an election conducted by the federal government April 2018. The Palms, a Station Casinos property, has refused to recognize the result of the election.”
But not too long ago, sitting at a friend’s home in Laguna Beach enjoying an afternoon of food and cold drinks, the waiter serving me was telling me something completely opposite the above statement. This man from Las Vegas, working a private party, was telling me how sorry the employees of the Palms were that they had “lost the vote” on whether they could join the culinary union or not.
This man, who completely freaked out when he found out who I was because he knew how much the “executives” of the Las Vegas culinary union hall hate me, begged me not to use his name and told me that they used to have a better salary, much better benefits, and were treated with more respect than some of those business agents treat the members — from the top to the bottom positions — who pay their salaries.
I remember when the membership for the Culinary Union Local 226 was $10.00 a month; when Binion’s Horseshoe went on strike, I don’t remember how long the strike lasted but it was a long time and the membership went up a few bucks — I don’t remember how much — to help the strikers at the Horseshoe “while the strike lasted,” but the membership never went down.
Then came the strike at the Frontier that lasted a long time and the membership went up again to “help the strikers” even if they were collecting unemployment; but when the strike ended the dues did not go down.
I know of a case of a retired Navy veteran with fourteen years of service working as a food server at a downtown hotel with fifteen years seniority in the place. When his brother died, he asked for an extra day off to go to his brother’s funeral.
I don’t know if it was the restaurant manager or the Food and Beverage Director, but someone told this man—remember a Navy veteran who served
the country for fourteen years, not two years just to fulfill the military obligation, but fourteen years — “If you are not here tomorrow do not come back; you’ll be fired!”
The veteran, the employee with fifteen years seniority, went to his Local 226 Union Representative looking not for help, but for justice, and he found nothing; the Union Representative told him, “Don’t worry; I will find you a good place on the Strip, forget about this downtown dump.”
“I don’t want the Strip; I have invested fifteen years of my life in this place; I have never worked any place else since I retired from the Navy,” he told the Culinary Union 226 Representative. He did not get his job back because the Union did nothing for him, but he sued the hotel and won.
In the old days he would not have to ask for the day off; as soon as the management learned of the death of his family member, he would have been given a few days (not just one day) off, the hotel would have sent flowers, and in most cases even helped with the funeral expenses because they appreciate the workers, they appreciate those who work with them (not for them) as it is now. Employees were happy and were proud of working for a company that appreciates them and the feelings were mutual.
I know of another case where an employee of a downtown hotel/casino requested an advance on his paycheck (not a loan, but a paycheck advance) to bury his mother. He was told by management to go to United Way because the property was not a division of the welfare department. Considering the fact that those employees of that property were forced to donate to United Way on behalf of the owner of the hotel makes that comment even more absurd. The owner of the hotel always appeared to be a great humanitarian person, but with all the funds that he demanded from his employees.
I’d be willing to bet that Jackie Gaughan or Benny Binion knew the name of most of the people who worked in their casinos, at least those who had been there for a while; they never walked around with their noses looking at the ceiling pretending that their poop did not stink;
they even picked up empty glasses by the slot machines and either gave them to the first employee they saw or placed them at the end of the bar.
No matter how we look at it, any bad old day is better than a glorious day today. The words ‘consideration,’ ‘respect,’ and ‘loyalty’ seem to have no meaning for so many today; what can we expect from a world where newscasters appear in front of the cameras without a tie, women wear pants with holes designed into them and display their tattoos more proudly than the men do?
If I had a chance to reclaim the past, I know I would choose to welcome back the Mafia.
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
* * * * *
Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column
appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him
at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at 702-272-4634.

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