They sat in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard and waited for the police to throw them in jail. But the over 100 strong members of the Culinary 226 and Bartenders 165 union were not quiet in their waiting, blocking traffic for an hour and chanting a message for the decision-makers of the Cosmopolitan resort, where union employees have been working without a contract for two years.
"Cosmopolitan, look around, Las Vegas is a union town!" they chanted. “... No justice, no peace! ...”
Culinary Union spokeswoman Yvanna Cancela says the planned Wednesday evening protest will be the first time in two decades that workers have engaged in civil disobedience outside a unionized casino.
Workers have been in contract talks with Cosmopolitan Las Vegas owner Deutsche Bank for two years.
According to watch commander Lt. Bruce Miyama there were about 1,000 demonstrators at the protest. At 5:40 p.m. some started blocking the roadways. 104 people were arrested, cited and released. No physical arrests were made.
The demonstrators were out of the roadway by 6:05 p.m. and traffic was reopened at 6:30 p.m.
More than 80 Metro officers were on scene.
Union members described it as an act of civil disobedience and stressed the action was non-violent and included clergy members.
The protesters blame Deutsche Bank for their lack of a contract for not allowing fair wages and benefits:
"You always hate to do something like this, but sometimes this is what happens and it's necessary – fighting for justice. I am prepared to be arrested," one protestor said.
In a press release, the Cosmopolitan stated
"As we've said before, the Cosmopolitan management is in ongoing negotiations with the union to find a fair agreement. We are hopeful that progress can continue in a positive direction and for continued clarity, the negotiations are being conducted solely between The Cosmopolitan management and the union."
"Our highest priority will continue to be on the safety and hospitality of our guests and CoStars. We will work with the authorities to ensure that access to the resort is maintained."