During seven months of intense negotiations, Las Vegas union hotel workers fought for job security, better working conditions, and safety while on the job in their first contracts since the pandemic. They emphasized their demand for mandatory daily room cleanings as a key issue throughout the negotiations.
Ted Pappageorge, the chief contract negotiator for the Culinary Workers Union, stated that tens of thousands of workers would be willing to go on strike if daily room cleanings were not made mandatory. He warned that without this requirement, the jobs of tens of thousands of workers could be in jeopardy.
After months of negotiations and the union’s threat to strike if contracts were not secured by a specific deadline, tentative labor deals were reached with MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts. These agreements, which cover about 5,000 union employees at Wynn Resorts, are pending approval by the union’s rank and file, with a vote scheduled to take place within the next two weeks.
The proposed five-year contracts are said to include historic wage increases, reduced workloads, and other unprecedented wins, including mandated daily room cleanings. Prior to the pandemic, daily room cleanings were routine, but hotels began to cut back on this service as social distancing measures were implemented.
The negotiations also revealed the conflict between labor and management regarding the reduction of daily room cleanings at some hotels. Union leaders expressed concerns about the potential negative impact on labor costs and the workload of housekeepers who still had to reach a daily room quota.
Workers, such as Jennifer Black, a guest room attendant at Flamingo Las Vegas, described the workload as back-breaking, with the need to clean multiple rooms per day, including those that have not been cleaned for a few days, adding to their workload.
In addition to their fight for daily room cleanings, the workers sought stronger job protection against the influx of technology in the hospitality sector, with concerns about the potential impact on labor force and the need for workers to have a voice in the introduction of new technology in the casinos.