Labor History in 2:00

September 21 - Fighting to Maintain Standards

September 21, 2020

On this day in Labor History the year was 1991. 

That was the day that members of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 went on strike against the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 

What they did not know was that the strike would last for more than six years—becoming one of the longest work actions in U.S. labor history.

The Frontier was the second casino to open on the Vegas Strip in 1942.  

At the time of the strike the Elardi family owned the historic casino. 

The Elardi’s were vehemently anti-union. 

They renovated the old facility and then reopened refusing to sign a contract to pay its workers the same rate provided at most other Vegas casinos. 

Claiming that the Frontier was too small to match the wages of the larger outfits, management refused to budge from their position.

In response, Local 226 members mobilized. 

The year before Hattie Canty had been elected President of the local. 

She was a black mother of ten children and a widow. 

She had worked as a hotel maid. 

Her leadership brought new determination to the Culinary Union. 

Local 226 set up 24-hour picket lines outside the Frontier. 

The strike was joined by Bartenders Local 165, Teamsters Local 995, Operating Engineers local 501 and Carpenters Local 1780. 

The strike became an important moment in Vegas labor history—as other casino owners looked on, watching the labor battle unfold. 

The unions stood strong. 

The picketers demand that the owners should “Sell, Shut Down, or Sign.” 

In the end, the Elardis decide to sell. 

The new ownership signed a union contract and rehired 280 striking workers.  

Triumphant union members cut a red ribbon at the hotel to mark their victory. 


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