Just in time for Labor Day, Nevada’s only casino dealers' union has joined the legal battle over whether Wynn Las Vegas can require dealers to share tips with supervisors.
The Transport Workers Union, which represents dealers at Wynn and Caesars Palace, joined the fray late last week.
In order to gain its contract at Wynn in 2010, the TWU had to accept tip sharing there. But the union says its new contract with Caesars Palace limits the ability of Caesars to require tip sharing, and the TWU now wants the Supreme Court to prohibit the sharing of dealers’ tips at Wynn, Caesars and everywhere else in Nevada.
''Were this court to not uphold the well-reasoned decision of the District Court that Wynn’s tip-pooling policy violated Nevada law, all the dealers in the state would feel the ramifications of that decision,'' a proposed TWU brief filed with the Supreme Court last week says. ''Other casino employers would institute programs similar to the one at Wynn, resulting in increased profits and pay to casinos and their upper management at the cost of reduced pay to dealers.''
Wynn, in the meantime, is asking the Nevada Supreme Court to strike down a 2011 decision by Clark County District Court Judge Kenneth Cory, who found the Wynn tip pool violates state law by providing a benefit to Wynn at the expense of dealers. The case was brought by a group of dealers, not by a union.
Wynn wants the court to reinstate a 2010 decision by Nevada’s labor commissioner upholding the tip pool. That ruling said tip pooling at Wynn is OK because the supervisors, boxmen and ''casino service team leads'' are an important part of the customer service experience that drives tipping by gamblers.
Steve Wynn brought casino dealer tip sharing to the Strip in 2006 to equalize pay levels on the casino floor, where dealers often earned more than their supervisors.
Wynn attorneys say only a minority of dealers have complained about the policy, and even the Culinary Union is backing Wynn. The Culinary says tip-pooling involving managers is commonplace in certain job classifications and is appropriate for those circumstances.
Attorneys for the dealers, however, say the policy diverts $5 million a year from dealers to Wynn. That’s the amount of money Wynn doesn’t have to pay for raises for supervisors, they say.
The court hasn’t yet indicated if it will allow the Culinary and the TWU to participate in the case with friend of the court briefs they have filed. Given the pace of the case at the Supreme Court, a ruling may be issued sometime in 2013.