Culinary union changes venue for health insurance enrollment

Culinary Local 226 members, who’ve been forced to stand outside in long lines in cold weather to re-enroll in their health insurance programs, now have an extension and a new venue.

From Jan. 20 to Jan. 30, thousands of union members will be able to re-enroll at Cashman Center, a much larger venue than the union’s headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, said Kim Voss, senior director of health care network and advocacy.

The purpose behind the massive open re-enrollment is to cut back on fraud by requiring all workers to bring their appropriate identifications, including birth certificates, marriage certificates and Social Security numbers.

The point is to make sure that everybody is telling the truth about who they say they are, said the union’s secretary-treasurer, Geoconda Arguello-Kline.

The original deadline for re-enrollment was Dec. 21, but it has been extended because the process is taking longer than expected and the Culinary Health Fund, which manages the union’s health care, needs more time to make sure that all the workers understand their changes in benefits, Voss said.

“We love the workers, and we want to make sure that they all get it right and that all goes well,” she said.

An estimated 55,000 members are expected to re-enroll, but the initial rush, which included thousands of workers, caused gridlock in the union’s headquarters on Commerce Street near Wyoming Avenue. The sheer volume of people, with the unusual cold weather, forced the change in venue.

While Voss said she cannot promise that workers in January won’t be experiencing the same long lines, she said that Cashman will be a much more suitable venue.

“Hopefully,” she added, “everybody doesn’t come at once and the enrollment is more evenly spread out.”

So far, 12,000 union members have re-enrolled, Voss said.

The Cashman Center is a 483,000 square foot complex on 55 acres located on Las Vegas Boulevard near Washington Avenue.

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at tragan@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.


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