Court Rules in Favor of Unions

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Culinary and bartenders unions have won
another round in their 14-year legal battle with former owners of the Sahara and Hacienda hotel-casinos in Las Vegas. But there's still no final decision in the case.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the National Labor Relations Board to reconsider its decision to let former hotel-casino owners Paul and Sue Lowden stop collecting union dues from employees after a contract expired.

Richard McCracken, the Las Vegas attorney for Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, said there are three vacancies on the five-member NLRB that probably won't be filled until a new president is elected - so any NLRB decision will take time.

The Hacienda Hotel has been demolished and a new casino has been
built on the site. The Sahara is under new ownership. But the Lowdens are still part of Archon Corp., which is the subject of the legal action.

When the unions' contract at the Hacienda and Sahara expired in 1994, Archon stopped collecting dues from employees and sending the money to the unions. The unions filed a complaint with the NLRB, which ruled in favor of the casino owners.

The 9th circuit court in 2003 voided the ruling, but in 2007 the NLRB again ruled in favor of the Lowdens.

The unions appealed again, and the circuit court on Wednesday sent the case back to the NLRB for further review. The question is whether the Lowdens could cut off the dues without bargaining over the issue, even if the contract had expired.

Nevada is a right-to-work state and the employees agreed voluntarily to have the dues deducted from their paychecks. Archon argued it was within its rights to stop sending the dues to the unions. Instead, it put the money in the paychecks of the union members.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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