Guards become first Sands casino workers with union contract

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) " Security officers at a Pennsylvania casino have become the first to ratify a union contract under billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Security personnel at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem on Wednesday agreed to a three-year deal with Las Vegas Sands Corp., The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.

The officers are the only union members at Las Vegas Sands, which has more than 50,000 employees worldwide at casinos in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau. They are part of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America.

The 146-member local approved a deal that gives security guards immediate raises of 8 percent, a seniority structure and a greater say in work rules at the casino in Bethlehem, according to International Union President David Hickey. The vote was 70-6.

"These guys are making history today," Hickey said. "They've hung in there through some hard times to get here. They have a right to be proud."

Sands guards first voted to unionize in 2011, but the casino company founded by Adelson fought the decision.

Negotiations on an initial contract began nearly a year ago.

"The first contract is always the hardest, but we're pretty happy with what we got," said George Bonser, a recently retired Sands guard who helped lead the unionization effort.

Sands has remained largely free of unions by offering competitive wages and benefits to its workers, and by fighting attempts to organize, the newspaper reported.

Sands officials did not respond to a request for comment.

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This story has been corrected to show that security officers are part of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, not that they joined in December.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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