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Strike ends on Las Vegas 'strip'

By MYRAM BORDERS

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- High-kicking showgirls and superstars raced through rehearsals today to open all showrooms for weekend highrollers after the end of a 75-day strike at major Las Vegas 'strip' resorts which cost the gambling mecca more than $100 million.

Singer Dean Martin, who did not open Thursday at the strikebound MGM Grand hotel, performs tonight in the MGM Celebrity Room. He is one of several superstars who did not cross picket lines.

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The Tropicana Hotel is reopening its French review 'Folies Bergere' for Saturday night gamblers as showgirls returned to the stage after spending 11 weeks serving drinks to casino highrollers.

Stagehands, who were the last holdouts of four striking unions, overwhelmingly ratified a five-year contact Friday with the MGM Grand, Tropicana, Frontier, Desert Inn and Sands Hotels. Musicians ratified similar contracts 12 hours earlier.

Stagehands and musicians accepted a 'last and final' management offer which included no wage increases for the next five years.

Culinary workers and musicians ratified contracts last month for $1.46-an-hourwage and fringe boosts over a five-year period with 5-cent wage increases the first year.

'I didn't like the contract, but the strike was absolutely worth it,' said stagehands president Dennis Kist. 'There were multinational corporations trying to break the unions and the unions survived.'

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Management negotiator Gary Moss said, 'After this strike, and with the stance management took, strikes will be minimal in the future. Las Vegas will have labor peace.'

The longest strike in Nevada gambling history was launched April 2 by 30,000 culinary workers, bartenders, stagehands and musicians who walked out at 50 hotel-casinos.

Statistics showed the strike cost Las Vegas more than $70 million in tourist dollars and another $40 million in gross revenue at the gambling tables.

All but 2,600 strikers returned to work more than a week ago when picket lines were removed June 6 'as a show of good faith' while musicians and stagehands negotiated. Unions had negotiated piece-meal contracts hotel-by-hotel.

During the strike, riot police jailed almost 900 strikers when they harrassed tourists and disrupted traffic on the Las Vegas 'strip'. Dynamite bombs exploded in 'strip' hotel parking lots and swimming pools, stink bombs routed high-rollers from casinos and a swarm of bees was discovered once in a suitcase left inside the MGM Grand casino.

The strike crippled, but never closed, the multimillion dollar gambling spas which line the Las Vegas 'strip' for a distance of five miles.

The stagehands ratification on Friday did not end the labor dispute for 1,400 culinary workers and bartenders employed at five off-strip casinos as well as the bankrupt Marina Hotel where their contract was voided by a bankruptcy judge prior to the mass walkout 75 days ago. No talks are scheduled with those off-strip resorts.

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Spokesmen for the Desert Inn and Frontier Hotels, currently operating showroom extravaganzas with non-union workers, said striking stagehands and musicians would be called back to work after the weekend.

The extravaganza 'Jubilee' at the MGM Grand, which opened May 10 with non-union stagehands and musicians, will close for three days next week to begin rehearsals with returning workers. The show reopens Thursday, June 21.

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