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A man walks in the lobby at the MGM Grand on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

The Culinary Union has completed months of negotiations with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, Inc., providing 36,000 current and furloughed workers with additional protections, including paid leave for required quarantine and no penalties for calling out sick, in response to COVID-19.

The agreement is the latest effort to obtain protections for employees since casinos reopened in June, including the union-backed law passed during the special session that provides liability protections for businesses that follow mandated health and safety regulations. MGM and Caesars are two of the top private employers in the state, employing more than half of the 60,000 workers the union represents. 

“Behind every worker is a family, and we are proud to have partnered with MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment during this difficult time to ensure workers are protected during this pandemic and are not left behind when the economy recovers,” Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Culinary Union secretary-treasurer, said in a press release Monday.

For current workers, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 185 secured 10 paid days of quarantine when initiated by the Southern Nevada Health District or the employer, no disciplinary actions for those who call out sick or are in quarantine with symptoms of COVID-19, an optional unpaid leave of absence for up to six weeks, options for employees to work different jobs if needed and training for managers for responding to COVID-19 positive workers.

The added protections also include those who have been laid off because of the pandemic. Furloughed workers will keep their health insurance through March 1, 2021 and will have two-year recall rights, which allows them to return to their job with seniority if demand increases and positions open.

The deal comes the same day approximately 18,000 MGM workers lost their jobs after being out of work for six months. In a letter to employees sent Friday, MGM announced separated workers would keep health care benefits through the end of September and remain on the recall list until the end of 2021. They can also receive financial assistance by applying for emergency grants through the company until Nov. 29.

Negotiations between the union and casino giants have been in process since March 11. The union is continuing collective bargaining for the same protections for its other 24,000 workers at different properties, according to the press release.

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