Paying Your Culinary Career Dues

Most professionals--culinary and otherwise--expect to pay their dues when starting a new career. Today, in Las Vegas, some of those dues are union dues. Granted, culinary schools don't teach Unionization 101, and many culinary careers don't involve unionization. However, if you want a culinary career with all the benefits most other career professionals take for granted, consider making your post-culinary-school way to the Vegas strip.

Culinary Careers United

"The Culinary," whose official title is Culinary Local 226, can lay claim to the title of Las Vegas' largest labor union, probably because it draws on a number of hospitality careers for its membership. Most large culinary schools have a hospitality track, after all, and the Culinary's members blend both the highly skilled and professionally schooled culinary career paths with the labor power of unskilled workers like dishwashers and hotel maids.

Staggering Statistics

The Culinary is able to provide career hospitality, casino, and restaurant workers with the health coverage and pension plans other kitchen and hotel workers only dream of. In fact, members of Culinary Local 226 enjoy three weeks of vacation a year, while some carve out career paths lucrative enough to buy homes--even in Las Vegas' pricey housing market.

The Secret of Post-Culinary-School Success

Bridging differences between the many culinary career paths makes the Culinary able to blend the strength of its members into a single negotiating force. The Culinary's membership includes:
  • 48,000 members total
  • 70% of members are women
  • 65% of members are nonwhite
  • 90% of hotel workers on the Strip belong to the Culinary

So successful has the Culinary been that 24 casinos now contribute financing to the Culinary Training Academy, a union-related Culinary School. Even if you didn't train to be a waiter, chef, or sommelier at the union's own school, you can take your own culinary school education to Las Vegas the minute you graduate, since the demand for culinary workers in this 24/7 city--and the support of the culinary union--create terrific career potential.

  • "Organized; Local 226, 'the Culinary,' Makes Las Vegas the Land of the Living Wage," by Steven Greenhouse. New York Times (June 3, 2004).
  • Working for America Institute