STATEMENT by Geoconda Argüello-Kline given as public comment to the NV Gaming Commission meeting

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Thursday, May 21st, 2020 

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Bethany Khan: bkhan@culinaryunion226.org ▪ (702) 387-7088

STATEMENT by Geoconda Argüello-Kline given as public comment to the NV Gaming Commission meeting:

Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Geoconda Arguello-Kline. I am the Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. I want to speak to you again about the absolute urgency of transparency, of making Nevada gaming licensees disclose detailed re-opening plans and protocols regarding health and safety protections at their facilities.  

We ask you – both the Commission and the Control Board – to go to Governor Sisolak and urge him to use his emergency powers during this public health crisis to require transparency on how Nevada casinos will do everything possible to minimize the risk of workers getting COVID-19.

As Rick Velotta, the leading gaming reporter in our state, put it in a column in the Review-Journal on May 17th: “We’re not talking about trade secrets or disclosing materials that would give a company a competitive advantage to a rival or criminal acts by a prospective licensee. This is information that employees and guests need to know before they set foot inside a resort.”

We need to know that employers are providing the proper PPE for staff, using the right chemicals regardless of cost, and ensuring that workers have the time to adequately clean guest rooms and public areas during this on-going pandemic. 

Are we really going to let the casinos gamble on the safety of workers?  

No, of course we are not going to allow that to happen. As Governor Sisolak has said: The lives of Nevadans are more valuable than profit.

15 Culinary Union workers and their family members have died from COVID-19. That is 15 too many. 

To re-open Nevada casinos, we should have the highest standard of COVID-19 prevention before they are allowed to re-open. And none of us can be sure that Nevada casinos have met such standards unless you or the Governor mandate transparency and make them release detailed plans and protocols for COVID-19 prevention. 

It was once said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” when it comes to government regulation. This is especially the case in this critical moment in the course of this dangerous pandemic. 

Please tell Nevada casinos – and ask the Governor to tell them – that they must release their detailed plans and protocols for doing the best and utmost they can to protect workers and the whole industry from the continuing threat of COVID-19.

Buenos días, Comisionados. Mi nombre es Geoconda Argüello-Kline. Soy la líder de la Unión de Trabajadores Culinarios Local 226. Me gustaría volver a hablarles de la absoluta urgencia de tener transparencia, de hacer que los titulares de las licencias del juego en Nevada divulguen sus planes y protocolos de reapertura de manera detallada con respecto a las protecciones de salud y seguridad en sus instalaciones.

Les pedimos a ustedes – tanto a la Comisión como a la Junta Reguladora– que recurran al Gobernador Sisolak y lo insten a usar sus poderes de emergencia durante esta crisis de salud pública para requerir que haya claridad en cómo los casinos de Nevada harán todo lo posible por minimizar el riesgo a los trabajadores de contraer el COVID-19.

Así como Rick Velotta, el destacado reportero del juego en nuestro estado, lo expresó en un reportaje en el Review-Journal el 17 de mayo, “No estamos hablando de secretos de la industria ni divulgando materiales que le darían una ventaja competitiva a una empresa rival, ni de actos delictivos por un futuro titular de una licencia. Esta es información que los empleados y clientes necesitan saber antes de poner un solo pie un centro turístico.”

Necesitamos saber que los empleadores le están brindando al personal el EPP adecuado, usando los químicos correctos sin importar el costo, y se están cerciorando de que los trabajadores tengan el tiempo adecuado para limpiar las habitaciones y las áreas públicas durante esta continua pandemia.

¿Realmente vamos a permitir que los casinos se jueguen la seguridad de los trabajadores?  

No, por supuesto que no vamos a permitir que eso pase. Como ha dicho el Gobernador Sisolak: las vidas de los nevadenses son más valiosas que las ganancias. 

Quince miembros de la Unión Culinaria y miembros de sus familias han fallecido por el COVID-19. Son quince muertes de más.

Para reabrir los casinos en Nevada, deberíamos tener el nivel más alto de prevención de COVID-19 antes de que se les permita reabrir. Y ninguno podemos estar seguros de que los casinos en Nevada hayan cumplido con dichos estándares al menos que ustedes, o el Gobernador, ordenen que debe haber transparencia y que los obliguen a divulgar sus planes y protocolos detallados para la prevención del COVID-19.

Una vez se dijo que “la luz solar es el mejor desinfectante” cuando se trata de reglamentaciones gubernamentales. Tal es el caso especialmente el caso en este momento crítico en el transcurso de esta peligrosa pandemia.

Por favor díganle a los casinos de Nevada – y pídanle al Gobernador que él también les diga– que ellos deben divulgar sus planes y protocolos detallados para hacer lo mejor y lo máximo que puedan para proteger a los trabajadores y a toda la industria contra la continua amenaza del COVID-19.

ABOUT CULINARY UNION:

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Culinary Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 145,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.  

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. We are proud to have helped over 18,000 immigrants become American citizens and new voters since 2001 through our affiliate, The Citizenship Project. 

The Culinary Union has a diverse membership -- approximately 55% women, 54% Latinx, 19% White, 15% Asian, 10% Black, and less than 1% Indigenous Peoples — and consists of guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, laundry and kitchen workers. The Culinary Union has been fighting for fair wages, job security, and good health benefits for workers in Nevada for 85 years.  

CulinaryUnion226.org / @Culinary226 

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