union representing workers in Las Vegas casinos has reported 22 deaths and 352 hospitalizations of its members or their family members since March.
The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and affiliated Bartenders Union Local 165 said in a statement Friday that hospitalizations for its members, their spouse or dependents have climbed over 800% since Gov. Steve Sisolak allowed casinos to reopen on June 4.
The union, representing 60,000 housekeepers, porters, bartenders, servers, cooks and other workers in Las Vegas and Reno, is calling on Sisolak, the state Legislature and casino companies to do more to protect workers, the Associated Press reports. The Nevada Workers Coalition joined the claim releasing a letter to the Nevada Legislature and Sisolak on Saturday.
"The pandemic cannot be an excuse for failing to protect workers and the public. Nevada workers’ health and safety must come first because when workers are protected, our entire community and our economy are secure," the NWC said in a statement.
“Behind every worker in this state there is a family,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union, as reported by FOX5. “Governor Sisolak, the Nevada Legislature, and casino companies must do everything they can to ensure workers and their families are protected from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. When workers are protected, our entire community - from the hospitality industry to customers and locals are protected."
The Culinary Union is asking for daily cleaning of hotel guest rooms, mandatory testing of all employees returning to work and regular testing after that, along with PPE for workers, the enforcement of social distancing and a safety plan posted publicly online.
Nevada gambling regulators already require face masks in all casinos and the casino-resorts were required to submit plans to regulators showing how they’d keep customers and workers safe. Some have posted the plans online and the testing plans vary, with some requiring it and others offering it for workers.
The union has asked state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring daily hotel room cleaning and other measures as they meet in special sessions to make steep budget cuts and address criminal and social justice reform. Lawmakers are working through a budget session and have not yet started what’s expected to a criminal justice session immediately after. It’s unclear if they will take up the union’s demands when the new session starts.