Culinary Union demands more protections for casino workers, threatens legal action

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s largest union, Culinary Union Local 226, is asking state and county leaders to step up and enforce that face masks be worn by everyone, not just workers in casinos. The union said it will take legal action, if necessary.

The Culinary Union represents housekeepers restaurant workers and dealers.

“We want the economy to get better and we want workers to work and they want to work but they want to work safe,” said Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline during a Monday virtual news conference. “The numbers (COVID-19 cases) are not going down, they are going up.”

The union is asking the state to do a similar order like California did last week when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that all people in public must wear a face mask.

“Why are we different than California?” Arguello-Kline said.

The union has four main issues it’s focused on:

  • Masks for all employees and guests in public areas
  • Mandatory COVID-19 testing for all employees before returning to work, followed by regular testing
  • Daily cleaning of rooms
  • More time for deep cleaning

Some gaming groups like Wynn and Station Casinos said they’re already testing all employees before they return to work.

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Three employees from Las Vegas casinos discussed their concerns and what they are observing in resort properties. They estimated that only 10% to 20% of guests are wearing masks.

“I’ve noticed that the guests are not wearing masks,” said Diana Thomas, a Flamingo guest room attendant. “I don’t want to bring anything home to my son who is asthmatic.”

Yolanda Scott, works as a food server in the Treasure Island coffee shop said “I’ve observed guests are not wearing masks in public spaces in Treasure Island. That concerns me because I don’t feel safe. I do not want to bring the COVID-19 back to my family, my children. My partner has a bad kidney and a bad heart, and we have to be extra cautious.”

According to the Culinary Union, at least 17 workers or their family members have died due to COVID-19 and the union said it continues to have positive cases.

One of the biggest concerns is workers who catch the virus may bring it home to their families.

“We are the largest immigrant organization here. COVID has been affecting the Latino community, the African-American community in big numbers,” Arguello-Kline said. “There is a family behind every worker.”

The total number of members who have been diagnosed or hospitalized since casinos reopened was not available.

The union is tracking what casino employers are doing to prevent COVID-19 in the following areas at this website.

According to a news release from the union, “The Culinary Union agrees with Southern Nevada Acting Chief Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen that ’employees of local businesses are putting themselves at risk to provide services to the public who are not wearing masks.’ Reopening without a requirement that all patrons wear masks puts hospitality and gaming workers, their families and communities, and the general public at risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases.”

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