Union wants all employees tested before returning to casino jobs, don’t want to be ‘rats in a lab’ for coronavirus

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — UNITE HERE which represents thousands of workers in the casino industry, including culinary union members, released its own guidelines for the reopening of the gaming industry.

The union held a news conference Tuesday morning to release protocols it wants casinos and hotels in Nevada and other states to follow prior to bringing employees back to work.

D. Taylor, the international president of UNITE HERE said the plans released by some properties is not adequate to ensure the safety for employees and guests. He said there is concern some “bad actors” will not follow the rules when reopening and that could create a coronavirus “hotspot” that could be devastating to “our livelihood” and the public. He said people need to be in a safe environment.

“Where we’re not viewed as rats in a lab as some politicians want to do so,” he said, as he took a dig at Mayor Carolyn Goodman for calling for businesses to reopen and using Las Vegas as a “control group.”

Union workers, including a worker from the Bellagio, expressed concern about safety.

“I am scared to touch dirty beds, towels, trash and infect my children,” said Gladis Blanco.

“It’s life and death,” said Geocondo Arguello-Kline, Culinary Union 226. “Painful, emotional, economical and we’ve been losing members and their families.”

The Culinary Union 226, which has 60,000 members in Las Vegas, reports it has lost 15 people between members and their families during the pandemic.

UNITE HERE released a plan in a six-page document that calls for all returning employees to be tested for COVID-19, PPE for employees and guests, enhanced cleaning and social distancing as well as enforcement of the protocols.

Taylor said it is up to the state and Nevada Gaming Control Board to ensure that the protocols are being policed and enforced.

“If they don’t do this, they will be derelict of duty,” he said. “We’re going to be aggressive. If any casino isn’t taking precautions, we will let visitors know.”

Taylor said his comment is not meant as a threat but informational. He adds workers want to go back to work as soon as it’s safe because a large number of them are still waiting for unemployment benefits and have no income.

UNITE HERE is the largest union of gaming workers in the world, representing over 100,000 members in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, and several other US states. Currently, those employees are out of work.

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