Vegas: Behind the standoff; Sands: Another one bites the dust

By David McKee ~ March 6th, 2014 @ 10:01 am

ObamaAs the Culinary Union heads toward a March 20 strike vote, the culprit behind its stalemate with over a dozen casinos has been identified as the Affordable Care Act. “The biggest hurdle to reaching settlements in Vegas is the new costs imposed on our health plan by Obamacare,” said an unusually blunt D. Taylor, president of Unite-Here. “Even though the president and Congress promised we could keep our health plan, the reality is, unless the law is fixed, that won’t be true.” Simply put, health plans obtained through collective bargaining don’t qualify for ACA subsidies. So far, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and the Tropicana Resort & Casino have come to terms but many other on-the-fringe properties like the Riviera and the Stratosphere have not.

Taylor blames the Obama administration for the impasse and is threatening retribution come November. If it’s bad for Culinary employees it’s worse for non-unionized casino workers, who are looking at monthly premiums of $300/month and upward. (Culinary-represented employees pay no premium.) “In some situations, companies have asked workers to also pay into an HMO,” reports Buzzfeed. An HMO? That’s a fate worse than death.

What the unions are asking for is government and employers to fund their benefits,” says consultant Robert Laszewski (emphasis added), who characterizes it as double-dipping. Ergo the change in the status quo. Unions are also chapped about a $63/worker tax on self-funded plans that subsidize care for high-risk patients … but to which the unions are denied access.

We thought that if we made the case to the agencies dealing with regulations to correct problems that hurt, really destroy, self-funded nonprofit health plans, it would be resolved. That clearly was naive or stupid,” fumes Taylor. A White House source says that President Obama heard out Taylor and others “with empathy.” However, when Taylor saw proposed fixes in the law, he wrote that administration leaders “were not listening or they simply did not care.”

There may be serious payback, come November. “If their health plan gets wrecked,” Taylor warns, “why would [employees] then go campaign for the folks responsible for wrecking their health care?”

Man overboard! Less than a year after signing a five-year contract with Las Vegas Sands, Executive Vice President of Global Operations Chris Cahill has tendered his resignation, effective March 31. “Mr Cahill oversees the company’s property operations, corporate marketing and human resources,” reports MacauBusiness.com, so this would appear to be unrelated to the recent mega-hack of Sands’ Web sites. Whatever the reason, Sands burns through executives at a merciless pace.

S&G predicted that outgoing Sands Bethlehem prexy Robert DeSalvio would be in demand. According to area newspaper The Morning Call, he’s joining Steve Wynn‘s executive team in Massachusetts. That’s got to tweak Sands a bit, but the company seems content to let DeSalvio go his way.

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