Unions had right to rally on Las Vegas casino’s sidewalks

Thursday, May 10, 2007

LAS VEGAS — A federal appeals court has ruled that the Venetian resort violated U.S. labor law in March 1999 by trying to prevent more than 1,000 members of the culinary and bartenders unions from rallying on a sidewalk outside the casino.

The May 8 decision by a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Las Vegas Strip casino violated the National Labor Relations Act by using loudspeakers to warn the demonstrators they were committing criminal trespass.

“The Venetian has no property right to the sidewalk that permits it to prevent people, like the demonstrators here, from exercising their First Amendment rights by airing to the public and to prospective employees grievances about the Venetian's employment practices,” wrote Judge Thomas Griffith in Venetian Casino Resort v. NLRB.

Another violation cited by the court was the citizen's arrest of a union officer by one of the security guards at the Venetian, which was still under construction during the demonstration.

A third alleged violation — the Venetian's appeal to Las Vegas police to keep the demonstrators off the sidewalk — was sent back to the National Labor Relations Board for a ruling.

Griffith was joined in the opinion by U.S. Circuit Judges Merrick Garland and Raymond Randolph.

The Venetian, a nonunion casino owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, will not be fined for the violations, according to Boston lawyer Michael Anderson, who represented the Culinary and Bartenders unions.

Both Ron Reese, a spokesman for the Venetian, and Patricia Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the NLRB, declined to comment on the case.

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