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UNLV Exhibit Spotlights Culinary Union's 80-Year Fight for Vegas Workers

1976 strike at Caesar’s Palace

Culinary Workers Local 226 in Las Vegas has been a major force in the fight for workers’ rights and justice since its founding in 1935. On Dec. 4, that 80-year history will go on display in a new exhibit at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The UNLV Public History Program’s student-curated exhibit, “Line in the Sand: The People, Power and Progress of the Culinary Union,” will be open to the public in the first-floor gallery of UNLV’s Lied Library through April 1.

Says Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union:

We are pleased to have partnered with UNLV to present the casino workers’ history of Las Vegas. Culinary Union members have been fighting for working families and good jobs for nearly 80 years, and this exhibit is a celebration of the people who helped build Las Vegas.

The dynamic exhibit explores the tenacious and determined history between the Culinary Workers and the city of Las Vegas. Using objects and images on display for the first time, the exhibit showcases the stories of the men and women who have labored behind the neon lights in downtown Las Vegas and on the world famous Las Vegas Strip as housekeepers, kitchen workers, cooks, food servers, porters, bartenders and cocktail servers.

Picketers during the New York New York strike in 1999

Through banners, buttons, T-shirts, picket signs, photographs, personal memorabilia and oral histories from worker-turned-union leaders such as D. Taylor, Hattie Canty and Arguello-Kline, “Line in the Sand” demonstrates the sometimes tense push and pull of organizing and worker/casino negotiations, and explores the interconnected development of the Culinary Union and the city.

“To fully understand Las Vegas history, we must look at the ways union activism influenced and was influenced by the exponential growth of the tourism industry,” said curator Hannah Robinson. 

Artifacts include a T-shirt designed for members who participated in the 1984 strike against 32 casinos that reads, “We struck, we stuck, scabs suck.” The shirt is displayed next to photographs of the event that testify to union solidarity amid discord.

“Line in the Sand” is presented in collaboration with the Culinary Workers Union, the Bartenders Union, UNLV University Libraries, UNLV's College of Liberal Arts, the Nevada State Museum and the Las Vegas News Bureau.

For additional information on the “Line in the Sand” exhibition, visit

Local 226 marches for LGBT workers
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