Updated May 12, 2020 - 6:09 pm
Hundreds of cars drove the Strip on Tuesday evening as part of caravan organized by Culinary Local 226 to demand transparency from casinos regarding their reopening plans and protections for workers and visitors.
“Nevada has a chance to be a leader in the hospitality industry,” Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the union, said in a statement. “If casino companies will not release their plans and be transparent before reopening how can customers and workers know they will be safe?”
The group is asking casinos to put their full reopening plans on their websites. The union is also calling on the Nevada Gaming Commission to implement new safety guidelines and release its own reopening plans.
Some cars carried signs or messages, such as “Reopen Las Vegas the safe way,” “Don’t gamble with workers’ safety” and “Don’t roll the dice with workers’ safety.”
Vehicles gathered at union headquarters, 1630 S. Commerce St., then headed south on Las Vegas Boulevard to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign before looping back.
The union is asking for help from Gov. Steve Sisolak and Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick to urge companies to comply.
Culinary spokeswoman Bethany Khan said 98 percent of the union’s 60,000 members have been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former Aria employee Marta Herrera is among them.
“We’re out here because we work for the casinos, and we lost everything when they shut down,” she said during the caravan. “We lost our pay, our insurance, everything. And we’re fighting to get it back.”
Donna Kelly-Yu said she was shop steward at Caesars Palace and has been a union member for 22 years. She said she came out Tuesday because she knows from experience that union gatherings can make a difference. The caravan demonstration, she said, is the biggest one she’s seen.
Kelly-Yu said she wants to see transparency from the casino owners regarding a reopening plan, and she wants to know that safety guidelines will be put in place and enforced.
“And it needs to be enforced for longer than just 48 hours,” she said. “If they want us to follow the rules, they need to, too.”
She said it’s important that owners protect their employees, especially in a time like this.
“We’re the ones who make the beds, wash the sheets, clean the dishes,” she said. “If we’re not safe, how can the customer be safe? If we’re safe, they can be assured they’re safe.”