LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Daily room cleaning is on the line for hundreds of Nevada hotels, while the union representing workers who do believe their jobs similarly hang from the same line.
It’s through SB 441, which looks to repeal hospitality cleaning requirements implemented at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SB 4 brought heightened standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in hotels with daily cleaning of rooms. But, unlike other pandemic laws, Nevada Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop said it didn’t have an end date.
“It worked then, but it doesn’t work now,” Dondero Loop said to the Nevada Assembly of Commerce and Labor Monday afternoon.
The senator joined legislators in Carson City to discuss the last remaining law of the emergency COVID era, as she referred to SB 4 as the last remaining COVID law.
They point to the metrics used to measure virus transmission when the bill was passed that are no longer in effect, along with the national COVID emergency ending in April.
“We did everything we could to protect ourselves and our visitors while knowing little about the virus or its transmission, or how long it would last, or how dire the consequences would be,” Dondero Loop said.
In the same session, MGM Resorts Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Ayesha Molino testified that over 40% of its guests declined daily housekeeping within the past year.
She cited that guests are working in their rooms, getting extra sleep, or simply do not want strangers in their rooms.
“The rate at which our guests are declining daily housekeeping is nearly double what it was before the pandemic,” Molino said through a virtual call during the Monday hearing.
Additionally, Billy Vassiliadis, who lobbies for the Nevada Resorts Association (NRA), said thousands of guestroom attendant positions across Southern Nevada are vacant.
“We’re trying to hire people. The entire industry throughout the United States is desperately trying to hire staff in hospitality,” Vassiliadis said to the assembly on Monday afternoon. “We’re not going to stop cleaning rooms.”
But, the culinary union, which represents 60,000 hotel workers across Nevada, argues with a lesser requirement to clean comes a lesser need for hotels to keep guestroom attendants on staff.
Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the union, also believes the argument that this new bill will save water is false.
“Companies call them green programs, but the reality is, it was about reducing labor and cutting costs,” Pappageorge said outside the new Culinary Health Center Tuesday morning. “This is a bad look for Vegas.”
While those who testified Monday deny the purpose of this bill to be for cost-cutting measures, the union additionally said workers will be left less safe when cleaning alone if SB 441 passes.
“When daily room cleaning goes away, that means you have to do what they call ‘chasing checkouts,’ in that, you have to go up and down to floors to get your quota to finish your workload, and you’re in places you don’t know, guests you don’t know, and you’re not in your station,” Pappageorge said. “The idea that these working women, many of them, most of them women of color, are to be alone in this struggle and left alone by the legislature, we’re not going to accept that.”
In response to these concerns, NRA sent this statement to 8 News Now:
“Three years later, these requirements for hotels no longer make sense and put Nevada’s No. 1 industry at a competitive disadvantage against other destinations that are not required to operate under outdated public health mandates if SB441 is passed, Nevada’s resort industry will continue to be highly regulated and held to the highest standards by Nevada gaming regulators and state and local health departments just as it was prior to the pandemic.”
Noted in the hearing, some hotels have certain rankings that require daily room cleaning. Senator Dondero Loop stated this bill does not prevent hotels from continuing with the daily cleaning.
The bill passed the Senate in an 18 to 3 vote. No action was taken by the assembly on Monday.