Two questions for the Mayor… 


(Photo: Culinary Workers Union Local 226 FB)

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s statements in a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper recently are a threat – not only to our health and safety, but to our economic future.  The interview raised many questions, but two stand out…

Mayor Goodman expressed the sentiment that 150 deaths in Las Vegas are insufficient to stop partying in the city.  Deaths have now exceeded 200 statewide. We wonder: What number of deaths would be enough for Mayor Goodman to support the measures that the Governor put in place?  Certainly, public health experts would agree that those measures have, no doubt, slowed the virus and reduced the death toll for Nevadans. Our death toll is still too high, but much lower than would have otherwise occurred.

Secondly, the extremely contagious transmission pattern of the virus has been established for months as we continue the worst pandemic our nation has faced since the 1918 influenza outbreak. So HOW, exactly, does Mayor Goodman believe offering up Las Vegas workers and visitors as an unprotected “control group” will encourage any future tourists to return to our city? Poor planning will have the exact opposite impact – a city disregarding science and ignoring the impact of the disease deterrents will not inspire tourists to return.

The Culinary Union represents 60,000 casino and hospitality workers in Las Vegas. Approximately 98% of members were laid off when Governor Steve Sisolak made the difficult decision – guided by medical experts and evidence – to close the casinos in order to slow the spread of the infection, avoid overwhelming our doctors, nurses, first responders, and hospitals.  That is real leadership.

Nevadans, including Culinary Union members, are struggling to pay rent and mortgages, get food on the table, and keep the lights on – there is no one who wants to get back to work more than we do. As COVID-19 has already taken the lives of 11 Culinary Union members, real leadership and workers will be the reason the rest of us get through this pandemic. Workers must be protected, and reopening decisions must be made responsibly to avoid a much worse second closing in the future, which would be devastating for our recovering community.

Las Vegas needs to ensure the health and security of workers and the industry to reopen businesses and casinos as safely as possible. There is much to do and we appreciate the leadership of the state and the county as they grapple with how to support the changes needed in the hospitality industry to protect workers and visitors. The Culinary Union is committed to negotiating protections for workers and collaborating with medical experts, business leaders, responsible governing leaders, and other unions to protect Nevadans.

Taking the unprecedented, historic, and painful steps of closing non-essential businesses and imposing stay-at-home guidelines has reduced the spread of the virus, saved lives,  and prevented devastating surges on our health care system and health care workers. We are now in a position to responsibly plan to reopen our economy as safely as possible. We don’t know how much damage and death has been prevented, and hopefully we won’t ever reach the death count that Mayor Goodman might consider acceptable to support the Governor’s orders and other responsible public health measures.

Now is the time for real leadership in planning how to reopen.

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Geoconda Argüello-Kline
Geoconda Argüello-Kline

Geoconda Argüello-Kline serves as the Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226.