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Unions denounce Las Vegas mayor's call to re-open casinos

EconomyApr 24, 2020 06:20PM ET
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© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Las Vegas, Nevada

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) - The powerful United Auto Workers union on Friday criticized Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman's call to re-open casinos despite the continued risk of coronavirus, the latest labor organization to weigh in on her remarks.

UAW president Rory Gamble, whose union represents casino workers in Las Vegas along with automobile workers across the United States, called on Nevada politicians to denounce Goodman at a time when states are looking at how to re-open businesses in ways that keep workers safe.

"UAW Casino employees, their families and the community are not test subjects for her irresponsible theories on public health and the COVID-19 virus," Gamble said in a statement.

Goodman, whose jurisdiction does not include the famed Las Vegas Strip, which is outside the city limits, has called closing the area's resorts and casinos "total insanity."

Her city faces a possible budget deficit of $150 million due to lost revenue from coronavirus-related closures and the associated drop in tourism and hospitality. The state of Nevada imposed shutdowns in March aimed at stopping the spread of the highly infectious virus.

Earlier this week, Goodman appeared on several television news programs calling for an immediate re-opening of casinos.

"We're ready to get back in business," she said on MSNBC.

Business owners should keep their places clean, she said.

"Let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if in fact there becomes evidence that they have disease," Goodman said.

Her remarks prompted strong pushback from unions representing workers in the city's hospitality industry and healthcare sector. Unions are powerful politically in Nevada, where a greater percentage of workers are represented by labor organizations than many other parts of the United States.

"To suggest that we should endanger more lives by treating Las Vegas like a guinea pig in some wild experiment betrays a profound level of ignorance of the current situation,” said Grace Vergara-Mactal, executive director of the Service Employees International Union Local 1107, which represents health care workers.

The Culinary Workers union Local 226, which represents 60,000 workers in casinos, restaurants and bars, called Goodman's comments "outrageous."

Nearly a dozen members have already died of the virus, said union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline.

"We are not expendable," Arguello-Kline said in a statement.

Unions denounce Las Vegas mayor's call to re-open casinos
 

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Comments (3)
Jason Zou
Jason Zou Apr 24, 2020 9:19PM ET
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This mayor is ignorant and irresponsible in dealing this public health threat. She is probably just a puppet of those casinos big investors.
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 6:59PM ET
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this is why socialism fails, when you incentivize people not to work.... but democrats need their voters poor and government dependent to keep them voting democrat
James Holmgren
James Holmgren Apr 24, 2020 6:59PM ET
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You're just a straw in the wind w/o a strong union. But why waist time talking to a greedy capitalist who'll never under stand collective bargaining or vested rights. And once you're old don't surprized when you're kicked to the curb w/o out your health care benifits that a union could have saved for you.
Adrian White
Adrian White Apr 24, 2020 6:59PM ET
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Steve, this has nothing to do with socialism needing dependent voters. This is about a reckless mayor who is willing to sacrifice the health of workers and their families but without taking any responsibility to increase safety measures, testing, physical distancing or anything. I watched her interview and she claims she has no responsibility to do any of those things.
Stephen Esquibel
Stephen Esquibel Apr 24, 2020 6:37PM ET
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Did she file for unemployment yet?
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 6:37PM ET
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i think she spent some time hanging out with the crowds in Walmart and posted some anti-Trump posts on Twitter first before complaining about  having to go back to work
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 6:37PM ET
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i think she spent some time hanging out with the crowds in Walmart first before complaining about  having to go back to work
 
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