Labor of Love

USA TODAY   ·   Link to Article

Essential workers like 45-year-old Chad Neanover, a prep cook at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. “I’m an asthmatic, and my wife, who’s a medical assistant, is diabetic. So we’re both in the higher-risk categories for CO-VID, which makes it very hard to want to go out into a work environment without (proper safety) protocols” Neanover says. “It was scary for a while, but then (the hospitality industry in Las Vegas adopted) mandatory temperature checks, masks and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, which has given us a little bit of relief.”

Neanover’s union — the UNITE HERE International Union, which represents more than 300,000 workers in the hotel, gaming, food service and airport indus-tries — was instrumental in securing those protections, which were codified into law by Nevada Senate Bill 4.

Passed in August as the first state law requiring comprehensive measures to protect employees and customers against the spread of COVID-19, Senate Bill 4 mandates enhanced cleaning, hand washing, social distancing, masks and employee training, as well as employer-sponsored testing and contact tracing.

“Unions give workers power and a voice to stand up for what they deserve, whether that’s sitting at the bargaining table or walking a picket line. With COVID-19, we’ve had to do everything we can to … ensure that our members and their families stay safe and healthy,” says UNITE HERE president, D. Taylor. The union has drafted and shared safety standards with hospitality employers not only in Las Vegas, but across the United States and Canada, Taylor says. 

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