Culinary Union roundtable with Congressman Steven Horsford

On Thursday, July 16, Congressman Steven Horsford (NV-04) hosted a virtual roundtable with Culinary Union to discuss the importance of worker protection during the coronavirus pandemic. Culinary Union President Ted Pappageorge and Culinary Union members Chad, Cris, and Lino participated to ask Congressman Horsford questions. “Our essential workers play a vital role in moving our country forward in the face of a global health and economic pandemic. They risk their lives each day on the frontlines and fear endangering their children and families when they return home -- we cannot abandon them,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “I’m looking forward to hearing from members of the Culinary Union and discussing the best approach to keep our workers safe.”

Culinary Union files lawsuit against major Las Vegas Strip casinos

Culinary Union files lawsuit against major Las Vegas Strip casino companies in order to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace Las Vegas, NV – Culinary Union has filed a lawsuit against The Signature at the MGM Grand, Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio, and Guy Fieri Las Vegas at Harrah’s on behalf of Culinary Union members who work in these casinos on the Las Vegas Strip in order to protect workers and their families from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Culinary Union complaint for injunctive relief here. Since March 1, 2020, 19 Culinary Union members and/or their dependents have died from COVID-19. The Culinary Union is suing these casino companies for injunctive relief under the Labor-Management Relations Act regarding hazardous working conditions. The lawsuit alleges casino hotels have not protected workers, their families, and their community from the spread of COVID-19, and that the current rules and procedures for responding to workers contracting COVID-19 have been wholly and dangerously inadequate. “This lawsuit against The Signature at MGM Grand (MGM Resorts International), Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio (MGM Resorts International), and Guy Fieri at Harrah’s (Caesars Entertainment Corporation) is the just the beginning of the Culinary Union’s legal efforts to make sure workers are fully protected,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “The Culinary Union will continue to collect worker statements and evidence regarding unsafe working conditions throughout the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas, and we will support the courageous workers who have come forward to share their experiences” More information & the complaint here:

Helping Hand: Food Assistance Program

Helping Hand program provides food assistance for thousands of hospitality workers and their families. The Culinary and Bartenders’ Unions’ affiliate, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, is proving food assistance for thousands of hospitality workers most affected by casino/hotel closures due to this global crisis. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the Las Vegas hospitality industry incredibly hard. In less than a month, almost all Las Vegas hospitality workers were laid off or furloughed, including more than 98% of Culinary and Bartenders’ Union families. Workers are facing a severe economic crisis and are struggling to pay for basic needs, especially food. In response to this crisis, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas (CALV) created the Helping Hand program to help meet the high community demand for food assistance. CALV is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a labor-management trust fund which has a Board of Trustees made up of Culinary and Bartenders’ Union leaders and industry employers. The Helping Hand food assistance program provides 2,000 bags of food a day to hospitality workers in need. Each bag contains enough meat, beans, fruits, and vegetables to feed a family of three for 7-10 days. Helping Hand is a safe, drive-through food distribution, where workers picking up food packets don’t get out of their car. All workers at the food assistance site wear personal protective equipment (PPE). There is also a contactless home delivery option for those who don’t have transportation, who are diagnosed with COVID-19, have an underlying medical condition, are under quarantine orders, or are over 65 years or older.

UNITE HERE press conference: Protect casino workers & guests!

Along with all other non-essential business, all casinos in the United States have been closed since March in an attempt to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as some states prepare to reopen, casino workers and their union, UNITE HERE, want to ensure that appropriate public health protections are in place to safeguard both workers and casino guests. “Hundreds of thousands of workers are employed in the gaming industry in the United States, and it is imperative that any plan made to reopen these facilities involves input from both workers and their union,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “The health and safety of both workers and casino guests is our union’s top priority, which is why UNITE HERE consulted with public health professionals and industrial hygiene experts to develop a set of public health guidelines for gaming facilities. The casino companies need to work with us to ensure a healthy and safe environment when casinos re-open, and if they won’t, the gaming regulators of the states in which they operate must take action.” UNITE HERE is proposing public health guidelines that include: *Prevention: This includes testing of workers for the virus and antibodies and screening both workers and guests on entry (temperature checks), as well as reducing the number of surfaces that are touched by multiple people. *Protection: PPE should be made widely available to workers and guests alike. Also, steps should be taken to maintain appropriate distancing among guests and workers in each facility. *Enhanced cleaning: More frequent and more intensive cleaning of all surfaces will be necessary. So too will ensuring that workers have the appropriate training and sufficient time to follow cleaning protocols. *Implementation and enforcement: These guidelines will require detailed protocols unique to each gaming facility. Clear lines of authority, accountability, and monitoring must be established. To ensure that workers have a voice in ongoing implementation and enforcement, joint labor-management health and safety committees should be created. “Since March, I’ve stayed home to do my part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and protect my family and my community,” said Gladis Blanco, a guest room attendant at Bellagio, a MGM Resorts International property, “I’m ready to go back to work, and I know my co-workers in CITY and in casinos around the country are too, but we need to know that we’ll be safe when we return. We need the protections that these public health guidelines will provide. Strong protections that keep both workers and guests safe are essential for the re-opening of the gaming industry to be a success.”

Press conference: Protect Workers!

Culinary Union and SEIU 1107 hosted a video press conference calling for stronger protections for workers Las Vegas, NV - Las Vegas labor unions, Culinary Union and SEIU Local 1107, hosted a video press conference calling for stronger protections and personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline workers in Nevada. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented national emergency and working families are struggling. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and SEIU Local 1107 demand that companies step up and do the right thing, and that local and federal government officials ensure workers are protected. WHO: *Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for Culinary Union *Grace Vergara-Mactal, Executive Director SEIU Local 1107 *Brenda Marzan, SEIU 1107 President *Jody Domineck, RN and SEIU 1107 Executive Board Member

UNITE HERE press conference: Don't leave workers behind!

April 9, 2020: UNITE HERE press conference UNITE HERE to host video conference to provide an update on the gaming industry and to call on casino companies to take care of their workers WHAT: Zoom video conference with UNITE HERE union leadership, casino workers, and elected affiliate leaders to discuss the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the gaming industry, which has closed all casinos and dramatically impacted tens of thousands of workers nationwide. UNITE HERE will call on the industry to leverage its unique financial and political position to ensure economic and health care protections for workers. WHO: D. Taylor, UNITE HERE International President Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 — Las Vegas Marlene Patrick Cooper, President of UNITE HERE Local 23 — New Orleans & Biloxi, MS Bob McDevitt, President of UNITE HERE Local 54 — Atlantic City UNITE HERE union members from Biloxi, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City WHY: UNITE HERE members have long worked in the established gaming markets of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the Mississippi/Lousiana Gulf Coast. Over 100,000 UNITE HERE members work in the gaming industry, and 100% of them are not working with casinos darkened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some industry leaders have stepped up to ensure workers are taken care of during this crisis, too many others have not.

#SaveTPS Forum (2018)

October 17, 2018: Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline and Nevada union members raised the importance of saving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) as an issue in 2018 election. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Senator Jacky Rosen, Congresswoman Dina Titus, Congressman Steven Horsford, and Congresswoman Susie Lee participated in a forum with union members to discuss protecting workers impacted by TPS. For decades, the TPS program maintained broad bipartisan support for its benefits to the economy, as well as to people from countries suffering from disasters, violence and upheaval. The Trump Administration has cancelled TPS for 300,000 workers and their families, weakening all working people's power to join together in unions and negotiate for a fair return on their work. In 2018, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the Administration from terminating TPS for workers from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. However, this reprieve is only temporary and working people are still calling on elected leaders to find a permanent solution that impacts all workers from TPS countries. Culinary Union members who have TPS, and who could lose their status, spoke out about what’s at stake for them in the 2018 election cycle. Workers called on elected leaders and candidates to pledge to protect them from the threats they face if they lose their status and will push Congress, the courts, and the President to act to #SaveTPS and prevent stripping hundreds of thousands of working people of their rights on the job and their freedom to stand up to abusive employers.

2018: We Fight. We Win!

Culinary Union celebrates 84 Years of fighting for working families in Nevada Growth: Now representing 60,000 workers Las Vegas, NV – The Culinary Union, a UNITE HERE local affiliate, was chartered on November 1, 1935. 2019 marks the 84th anniversary of an organization that has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nevada hospitality workers and their families with union wages and benefits. In eight decades, the Culinary Union has become an essential economic institution and a strong political force in the Battle Born State. The Culinary Union has won a middle-class standard of living for over 770,000 hospitality workers in 84 years through rank-and-file organizing and mass actions. Worker membership has risen from 18,000 in 1987 to 60,000 members today. “Working families can succeed because of the strength and sacrifices made by generations of Nevadans,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “When the workers who make Las Vegas run have good jobs with fair wages, job security, and good health benefits, our entire community benefits.” The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with members who come from 178 countries and speak over 40 different languages. 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.

Immigration Champion Award: Bishop Pepe

The Immigration Champion award was presented to Bishop Pepe for his support of the work of CLINIC, and for his own advocacy and pastoral efforts on behalf of immigrants. Particularly in Nevada, this work often involves collaboration with and on behalf of the members of the UNITE HERE and Culinary Union. Grounded in Catholic social teaching, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., is the largest network of community-based nonprofit immigration legal programs, with nearly 330 affiliates in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Much of Bishop Pepe’s everyday work involves caring for and working to protect the many immigrants in the Diocese of Las Vegas (20 percent of Nevadans are immigrants). As head of the diocese since 2001, Bishop Pepe has testified in support of immigrants, joined in public celebrations of their contributions and urged Catholics in a plea at Masses to pray, write and phone elected representatives, urging support for a then-pending immigration reform bill. Last fall, Bishop Pepe celebrated a special Mass for immigrants, refugees and workers, attended by hundreds of Las Vegas workers and union members of all faiths. D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE serves on CLINIC’s Board of Directors, and UNITE HERE has partnered with CLINIC on a number of projects. CLINIC has helped thousands of workers to apply for citizenship and has worked with dozens of UNITE HERE local affiliates across the country to prepare. CLINIC, UNITE HERE, and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Las Vegas have partnered to conduct workshops that helped thousands of union members, their families and neighbors become citizens. More info:

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