1984 Culinary Union striker faces possible return to picket lines

She’s been a cocktail waitress and union member for 43 years.
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 6:29 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - As contract negotiations continue between the Culinary Union and the three largest private employers on the Las Vegas Strip, the possibility for a strike looms closer.

“Our history has been long, difficult, nasty strikes, and the last 20 years or so, we’ve been able to get to an agreement,” said Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge.

Last week, union members voted to authorize a strike if negotiations fail.

“I feel very confident that if we have to—of course, nobody wants to go out on strike—but if we have to, we will,” said cocktail server and union member Debra Jeffries.

This is a familiar feeling for Jeffries. She’s been a cocktail waitress and union member for 43 years, and she participated in the union’s last strike in 1984.

“In 1984, I was a proud union member, and most everybody stuck together,” said Jeffries. “We were having a problem with our health and welfare, and we struck for about two-and-a-half months and gained probably the best insurance around.”

Comparing the current situation to what led up to the last strike, Jeffries said this new group of union members is just as united, if not more, than the strikers of generations past.

“There’s just a few of us left from that 1984 strike, but I was really surprised when I saw the turnout for the strike vote last week and how overwhelmingly the younger generation is stepping up to the plate to take over,” she said.

Union leaders still have not set a strike deadline and plan on finishing this week’s scheduled negotiation sessions before doing so.