LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Unions that represent culinary workers in the gaming industry say they are discouraged that most casino properties are not offering to extend pay to their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of casino workers are currently not working due to the temporary closure of gaming properties.
“We are both puzzled and upset the industry has not stepped up,” said Dee Taylor, UNITE HERE international president.
Union members from Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Biloxi, Mississippi, along with some workers took part in a video news conference to get their message out Thursday.
The union says it is calling on the industry to leverage its unique financial and political position to ensure the economy and health care protections for workers.
“We are both upset and puzzled the industry has not stepped up,” Taylor said. He pointed out that the industry, for the most part, stepped up during previous time of crisis such as 9/11.
According to the union UNITE HERE leaders, some industry leaders are paying employees and extending health benefits to ensure workers are taken care of during this crisis but most are not.
Taylor said the companies should pay workers throughout the closure and spoke of The Wynn Resorts as an example of what the other companies should be doing. Wynn Resorts was the first to close in Las Vegas due to COVID-19 and is paying all of its employees through mid-May. That payroll extension helps around 15,000 employees. The Las Vegas Sands is also paying it’s employees through the state-ordered closures to the end of April.
Union leaders said the gaming industry has the ability to get federal loans and most have not. Taylor said the loans could help pay and retain workers.
“You shouldn’t have to navigate an unemployment system that is swamped,” Taylor said.
“They would rather choose to keep their stockpiles for their stockholders,” said Marlene Patrick Cooper, president of UNITE HERE Local 23 in New Orleans and Biloxi.
Taylor did add, going forward, union contract negotiations with properties — that are not helping employees — will be affected.