LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The world's largest gaming workers union, UNITE HERE, has released new demands to protect workers as casinos in Las Vegas move toward reopening.
Unite Here International President D. Taylor specifically rebuked calls to reopen Las Vegas like Mayor Carolyn Goodman's infamous "control group" proposal.
"We have seen, for example, the Mayor of Las Vegas essentially just say, 'Let's open up. We'll see what happens,' like we're rats in a lab," he said.
Taylor says that it's not going to happen and proposes a list of safety features to protect workers, like Bellagio guest room attendant Gladys Blanco.
"I am scared to touch dirty beds, towels or trash," Blanco said, "and getting the virus and infecting my children."
Taylor laid out five proposals:
- Prevention: Test every employee for the coronavirus before they come to work, establish an antibody testing program, and have the casinos pay for the tests.
- Protection: Provide adequate protective gear like masks, gloves, and gowns for all employees.
- Enhanced cleaning: Establish more thorough cleaning protocols, give workers time to accomplish it, and train them in proper methods.
- Worker enforcement: Create a worker health and safety committee to inspect and enforce safety protocols.
- Government Enforcement: Call on the State or Gaming Control Board to take an active role in enforcing safety guidelines.
Culinary Union Secretary Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline says these protocols are essential to protect casino employees.
She says 15 of her members have been killed by the coronavirus.
"You cannot replace the mother," she said, "you cannot replace the father, and if one of your kids dies because you're working in the casino that's a pain with no name."
Wynn Resorts and The Las Vegas Sands Corporation have released comprehensive safety plans, MGM Resorts International released a statement Tuesday saying they would release one in the coming days, and the Gaming Control Board released a series of safety protocols on May 1.
"So far it's fallen short," Taylor said.
He said union members would essentially shame any of what he called "bad actors" who wouldn't comply with safety guidelines with the hope they would fall in line.