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Culinary proposes paid sick days, other benefits in response to coronavirus and likely economic slowdown

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
CoronavirusGamingHealth Care
Union members in red shirts at a town hall event

The Culinary Workers Local 226 union is proposing a slew of protections for its workers at major Las Vegas area resort casinos amid multiple major event cancellations and fears of an economic slowdown caused by the spreading novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The details, contained in a negotiation update sent to members of the union and obtained by The Nevada Independent, call for a number of emergency proposed protections designed to protect the union’s 60,000 plus members in the Las Vegas area. It marks one of the most significant moves yet by any group in Nevada to prepare for potentially massive economic consequences for both the state and the nation from the spread of the virus.

The proposed protections include:

  • Five paid sick days
  • No attendance points or discipline to any worker who calls out sick or is in quarantine
  • Up to six months of paid health benefits if a worker is laid off
  • Allows leaves of absences for workers who request one
  • Additional training and supplies for workers to follow federal and state guidelines to prevent spread of the disease
  • Enhanced cleaning standards for all areas of a casino, including guest rooms, public areas and kitchens

The union says it is holding emergency negotiating sessions with casino properties including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment International, Wynn/Encore Resorts, Westgate, Strat, Treasure Island, Four Seasons, Trump, Tropicana, Waldorf Astoria, Circus Circus Las Vegas, Hilton Grand Vacations, Sahara, and the Cosmopolitan. It will also “negotiate similar protections” for unionized workers at Station Casinos properties and planned to call on the company to “implement industry-wide protections for workers and customers at both union and non-union casinos.”

“The Culinary Union will propose the same protections to the remaining Downtown Las Vegas casino properties as well as our other union employers to set a new citywide standard,” it said in a statement to its members.

The negotiations come amid a rash of cancellations of events, sports and conferences in Las Vegas, and moves by private businesses and government agencies to mitigate the spread of the disease by limiting large public events. Stock prices for major and regional casino operators have tumbled in the last week, and an investment group likened the toll on travel to Las Vegas to be similar to effects following terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Nevada state law requires any employer with more than 50 employees to provide minimum standards for paid time off, but exempts any group of employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

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