98 arrests in Las Vegas Strip union protest

LAS VEGAS

Police led workers clad in red union shirts one-by-one into a white police bus Wednesday. Police say a total of 98 protesters were arrested. The workers chanted, "If we don't get no contract, you don't get no peace," as they waited to be taken away.

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas owner Deutsche Bank and Vegas' largest and most powerful union have been in contract talks for two years.

Earlier this year, the 54,000-member union held two one-day pickets outside the casino, located in the heart of the tourist corridor. These events marked Culinary Workers Local 226's first pickets on the Strip since 2003.

Cosmopolitan spokeswoman Amy Rossetti said management is continuing to negotiate with labor to "find a fair agreement." She said the union was negotiating with casino management, not with Deutsche Bank directly.

The protesters snarled rush hour traffic for more than an hour in both directions on the block that's home to the Bellagio, Aria and Planet Hollywood casinos. The crowd totaled about 1,500 people.

Contract negotiations will open for most other Strip casinos in April.

The 2-year-old Cosmopolitan was built by the German investment bank after its original developer defaulted. It is one of just a handful of non-unionized casinos on the Strip, along with the Venetian, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and the Palms.

Culinary Union members receive free health care and are paid above-average wages. Housekeepers in most Strip hotels start at $16 an hour and receive a pension.

On Wednesday, protesters said they were worried that Deutsche Bank was stalling because it intends to sell the casino and doesn't want to be burdened by a union contract.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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