Las Vegas Casino Union Folds on Rent Stabilization Effort, But Fight Not Over

The Las Vegas casino union that represents 60,000 gaming industry employees in Southern Nevada in Reno has folded on its efforts to stabilize rent prices in North Las Vegas.

Culinary Union members march in support of rent control in North Las Vegas on June 30, 2022. The Las Vegas casino union has given up on its 2022 rent control effort, but now has bigger plans to limit excessive rent hikes in Southern Nevada. (Image: KSNV)

The Culinary Union in May announced a ballot initiative seeking to cap further rent increases in North Las Vegas where many of its members live. The trade group levied accusations that private equity and real estate investment firms pounced on the economic opportunity COVID-19 created by buying up neighborhoods and rental units on the cheap and then jacking up rents.

The union canvassed the area to gain signatures from local residents in support of placing a question on the November 2022 ballot to limit how much an owner can increase rent from one year to the next. But after the North Las Vegas City Council earlier this week voted 4-1 against the rent control initiative, union leaders say they will not appeal.

Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the union, said the other option would have been to enter a lengthy and costly legal battle to try and overturn the council’s decision and force the rent cap question onto the ballot.

The North Las Vegas City Council’s last-minute refusal to place the Neighborhood Stability initiative on the ballot would have dragged us into extended legal proceedings,” Pappageorge explained. “We won’t be deterred, nor will we waste time in court.

“We will continue running the largest political field program ever in Nevada to elect candidates who will center workers,” the union leader continued.

The North Las Vegas City Council ruling came after the city’s clerk said the ballot initiative did not garner enough valid signatures to force the local referendum. The clerk also found discrepancies in the text canvassers presented before residents, another issue that threatened to disqualify the initiative from the ballot.

Union Says Rent Control Needed

The Las Vegas casino union says that while it won’t contest the North Las Vegas City Council decision, the ruling has only fueled its mission to limit excessive rent increases. And the union is expanding its efforts across Southern Nevada.

“In the days since the North Las Vegas City Council voted to protect the profits of corporate landlords and deny voters the opportunity to vote on Neighborhood Stability, hundreds of Culinary Union canvassers have knocked on tens of thousands of voters’ doors and are on track to knock on the doors of more than half of the Black and Latinx voters this cycle,” Pappageorge said.

The union boss added that the canvassing teams are comprised of casino union members who “want our elected officials to stand with working people — not corporate landlords getting rich off of evictions.”

The union says its new goal is to pass the Neighborhood Stability initiative at the county level. Clark County is Nevada’s most populated county with about 2.2 million residents.

Proposed Rules

The Culinary Union believes property owners and management groups should not be allowed to increase rent from one year to the next by more than 5%.

The Neighborhood Stability initiative also sought to require landlords to give renters a minimum 90-day notice of any forthcoming rent increase. But the referendum also would have allowed “commonsense exemptions” for units built in the last 15 years and mom and pop landlords who only rent out a single unit.

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