80°F
weather icon Clear

Culinary union: State casino reopening guidelines don’t go far enough

Updated May 5, 2020 - 3:41 pm

The culinary union says the state Gaming Control Board’s casino reopening guidelines are inadequate and has issued its own six-page list of health and sanitation guidelines for gaming facilities.

In a videoconference Tuesday, union leaders also vowed to “call out” regulators, government officials and casino companies that fall short of their expectations.

“There can be no shortcuts,” said D. Taylor, international president of UNITE HERE, the umbrella organization over Culinary Local 226 in Nevada. “There can be no volunteerism by companies to do the right thing. This has to be mandated in the strongest possible terms.”

The guidelines of the union, which says 95 percent of its 300,000 workers in several states are out of work, emphasize prevention, protection, enhanced cleaning protocols with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards and regulatory enforcement.

Among the requirements listed by the union are that guests should be offered surgical masks and asked to wear them while in public areas; that contactless and cashless tipping systems for guest service providers — such as bellpersons, valets, doorpersons, guest-room attendants and room service attendants — should be provided; and that all fitness centers, spas and pools remain closed.

Wynn plan praised

Taylor praised the reopening plan of Wynn Resorts Ltd. — but said it still fell short of what’s necessary — and blasted remarks made by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.

“There has to be state or municipality enforcement and mandates,” Taylor said. “We have seen already, for example, the mayor of Las Vegas essentially say, ‘Just open it up. We’ll see what happens,’ like we’re rats in a lab. So we can’t rely on examples of politicians like this.”

Taylor said gaming regulators across the country have the ability to dictate what standards are set for a casino reopening.

“If that is not used, then I think every public official who’s responsible for the gaming control board should be scrutinized and, frankly, be held accountable if workers and guests become affected because we have not taken steps necessary to protect the workers and the public from the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Taylor encouraged regulators to make casinos’ reopening plans public as Wynn Resorts has. He said union contracts guarantee employees a safe working environment.

“That’s great for us,” Taylor said. “But this is not just about us. This is about all the workers in the hospitality industry. Why would they (regulators) keep this confidential?”

Confidential plans

On Monday, Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan said in a text that plans “will be confidential,” citing state statutes. “But some licensees are choosing to make them public,” she said. “We are not approving every plan.”

Taylor disagreed.

“Let’s be transparent,” he said. “We’re transparent. We’re telling you about our protocols. Why wouldn’t every company do that? I applaud what Wynn did. They made that a public document, good, bad or indifferent. We think it’s obviously very good overall. Let everybody do that.”

Representatives for Wynn Resorts did not respond to a request for comment on the union’s remarks.

Morgan had no comment on the other culinary union criticisms.

MGM Resorts International, which is expected to release its detailed reopening plan in the days ahead, said it would work with the union and the company’s philosophy would be safety first.

“We are providing masks and requiring thermal temperature checks and screening for all employees working at MGM Resorts, and that will remain our policy as we continue to reopen,” MGM spokesman Brian Ahern said. “When we release our comprehensive health and safety plan in the coming days, it will be clear that we are putting health and safety at the center of our operations. The plan includes PPE guidelines, social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols. Employees will receive training and support as they work to operate in the new environment where safety is put first. We have and will continue to engage with the union on safety in the workplace.”

Source of recommendations

Taylor said the list of guidelines came primarily from public health organizations.

“These things did not come out of our thin air,” he said.

Other highlights from the recommendations:

— Each facility should establish detailed written procedures for implementing these guidelines. Such procedures should be supplied to all personnel in the language they are most comfortable with and to their bargaining representatives.

— Each facility should maintain an adequate stock of personal protective equipment and should distribute such equipment at no cost to employees.

— All employees should be offered employer-paid tests to determine their current and past COVID-19 status. Tests should be provided with sufficient time for employees to receive results before they are scheduled to return to work. Employers should contract with third-party organizations able to generate baseline statistics of past and present COVID-19 status across the workplace and should provide such statistics to employees and their bargaining representatives to the maximum extent permitted by law. Once an employee has been cleared to return to work by a health professional, the employer shall promptly return that employee to his or her previous position.

— If COVID-19 has been detected at any time during the preceding 14 days in the state or province where the facility is located, no employee should be compelled to accept work. Any employee electing not to accept work should be considered to be on involuntary layoff. Employers should not challenge applications for unemployment benefits by employees subject to such involuntary layoff. Such employees should be permitted to return to work at any time according to regular scheduling practice.

— No employee should be disciplined or retaliated against for refusing work they believe poses a risk to themselves or others or for reporting work conditions that they believe may be unsafe.

— Guests should be asked to keep 6 feet of separation from anyone who is not traveling with them. Guests should be offered surgical masks and asked to wear them while in public areas and guests should not touch doors entering the facility. Doors should either be propped open, should open automatically, or should be opened by a doorperson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Is Nevada the ‘gold standard’ for casino coronavirus response? - Video
Whenever experts begin comparing gaming jurisdictions, you’re bound to hear the phrase “gold standard” dropped in the conversation. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas activates 100,000-square-foot LED screen - VIDEO
Resorts World Las Vegas activated its 100,000-square-foot LED screen on its west tower on Independence Day, showing a digital fireworks display. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos president dies in watercraft accident - VIDEO
Richard Haskins, president of Red Rock Resorts Inc. and Station Casinos, died Saturday in a watercraft accident in Michigan, according to a statement released by the company. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hockey arena opponents erred in ballot initiative - Video
Opponents of a minor league hockey arena in Henderson collected enough verified signatures to put the disputed project on the November ballot, but then a problem emerged: A procedural error on the petition.
Layoffs at 'The Drew' force staff to sue owner
Rj Business reporter Eli Segall talks about the lawsuit and the future of the unfinished hotel and casino.
Vegas tourists react to mask mandate - VIDEO
Governor Steve Sisolak announced on Wednesday a mandate to wear face masks starting Friday. Down on the Las Vegas Strip tourists reacted on camera to the news. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA #VegasSmart social media campaign brings awareness to wearing a mask - Video
Now that Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced requirements to wear masks in public settings in the state, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will attempt to deliver the message to prospective visitors via their #VegasSmart social media campaign. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's unemployment crisis - Video
Thousands of jobless workers turned to the state for payments after the COVID-19 shutdown in March. DETR has struggled to handle record claims. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars mandates guests to wear masks
Guests at Caesars Entertainment Corp. properties will be required to wear masks while inside its properties, effective immediately.
MGM Grand and Aria are reopening pool clubs - Video
MGM Grand’s Wet Republic Ultra Pool and Aria’s Liquid Pool Lounge plan to open July 2, according to a Wednesday statement from MGM Resorts International and Hakkasan Group. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Survey shows big reluctance to travel with coronavirus ablaze - VIDEO
Would-be travelers are becoming more pessimistic in their outlook about their safety when they travel. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown's Circa resort will begin taking room reservations Wednesday - Video
Circa developer Derek Stevens confirmed that when the property opens on Oct. 28, persons under the age of 21 won’t be allowed. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas’ Circa resort will begin taking room reservations - Video
Downtown Las Vegas’ Circa resort will begin taking room reservations on Wednesday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Culinary union expresses concerns about returning to work - Video
The Culinary union expresses its concerns about returning to work and the safety precautions that casinos are taking to ensure the safety of staff.
Bellagio poker room reopens with approval to host six-handed games - Video
The installation of plexiglass dividers between the players gave the Bellagio an edge over the other poker rooms open in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Westgate reopens after coronavirus shutdown - Video
Jay Kornegay, vice president of Westgate Sportsbook, talks about the reopening of the casino on Thursday, June 18. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Final beam of Circa resort tower moved into place - Video
A crane whisked the final beam in the construction of downtown Las Vegas’ Circa resort property into place Friday morning, June 19, and crews paused momentarily, then continued working to ensure the casino's Oct. 28 opening. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas reopens - Video
The Paris Las Vegas hotel-casino reopened its doors on June 18 after the statewide shutdown in response to COVID-19. (Mackenzie Behm/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masks required at casino table games in Nevada - Video
The state Gaming Control Board has ordered Nevada casinos to require players and spectators of most casino table and card games to wear protective face coverings.
Downtown Las Vegas’ Circa to open in October - Video
Circa resort-casino’s first five floors are set to open Oct. 28, according to CEO and developer Derek Stevens. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas movie theaters set July reopening date - Video
Las Vegas movie theater reopenings will start Regal, the valley’s largest exhibitor, announced Tuesday that it will reopen its theaters starting July 10, albeit in a modified fashion. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Contractors say they’re owed $36M for work done at Drew Las Vegas - Video
Three months after coronavirus turmoil shut off construction of the Drew Las Vegas, contractors have levied claims for more than $36 million in unpaid bills. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Contractors say they’re owed $36M for work done at Drew Las Vegas
Three months after coronavirus turmoil shut off construction of the Drew Las Vegas, contractors have levied claims for more than $36 million in unpaid bills. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Many Las Vegas guests ignoring COVID-19 protocols
Casinos are putting safety first but many Las Vegas guests are not socially distancing.
As Las Vegas casinos reopen, not every employee is convinced it's safe to go back.
As Las Vegas casinos reopen, some employees aren't convinced it's safe to go back.
1.54M Americans filed for unemployment last week - Video
The U.S. Labor Department released the unemployment numbers on Thursday, June 11. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1.54 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Last Week
1.54 Million Americans Filed for Unemployment Last Week. The U.S. Labor Department released the unemployment numbers on Thursday. The number of jobless claims was just below economists' predictions of 1.55 million claims. 1.897 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance the previous week. More than 44 million Americans have filed jobless claims in the past three months. Continuing claims nearly topped 21 million. The numbers follow the May jobs report, which revealed that more than two million jobs were added to the U.S. economy in May. Initial jobless claims continued the gradual downward trend. But it is still hard to square the claims figures with the much more upbeat news on the labor market from May’s Employment Report, Capital Economics, via Yahoo Finance
Visitors return to Las Vegas
Guests returned to Las Vegas casinos throughout the weekend. Casinos reopened on Thursday after being closed for 78 days because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Sisolak tours casino property after reopening - Video
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sandra Morgan, chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, participated in a tour of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino where they share their first thoughts on casinos reopening. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Treasure Island reboots operations after coronavirus shutdown - Video
When casinos shut down, not only were tourists unseen on the Las Vegas Strip, but jobs were temporarily lost. Treasure Island took the months off to remodel and fix the property, adjusting the casino for COVID-19 norms. Now that they’re open again, management is slowly hiring back staff as guests return. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Gaming boards back Eldorado-Caesars deal

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday unanimously backed Reno-based Eldorado Resorts Inc.’s $17.3 billion bid to acquire Caesars Entertainment Corp. and build the world’s largest casino operation.