Some 10,000 culinary workers and bartenders in Las Vegas voted last week to authorize a strike, if necessary, in their effort to resolve their contract dispute with 14 Las Vegas casino resorts.

The strike authorization vote--approved by 99 percent of members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165--gives the union the authority to strike, but does not mean a strike is imminent, explains Maya Sherr Holmes, research director at Local 226, which is part of Unite Here. “No one here wants the strike,” says Holmes. “Membership is very concerned, very engaged, and they want a settlement soon.” Whether of not the union votes to strike depends on the course of the negotiations. “We don’t have a specific [strike] date.”

Contracts for 50,000 culinary workers and bartenders expired June 1, but since then, the bulk of casinos in the city have settled. Harrah’s was the first major company to settle, reaching an agreement with its 15,000 union workers. In recent weeks, the MGM Mirage and its 21,000 workers at 10 Las Vegas casinos settled with the union. Just before that, the Riviera Hotel and Casino reached an agreement with the union.

However, about 10,000 workers at 14 Las Vegas casinos--including the Golden Nugget, the Las Vegas Hilton, and the Tropicana--don’t have new contracts. The workers are currently working under conditions of their previous contract and, by agreement between the two sides, there can be no economic actions--boycotts, picketing, etc.--while workers are under contract. That means there can’t be any picketing or boycotting unless either side terminates the extended contract (and they must provide seven days notice before the termination goes into effect).

With the remaining properties, the union is seeking five-year terms that, for the most part, reflect the deal made with other casinos. “The basic principles of job security and the economic package are consistent across the board,” says Holmes. The MGM package includes, among other things, salary and benefit increases and card check neutrality, which allows unions to organize without holding ballot elections.