Las Vegas Casino Union Tells Nevada Lawmakers to Provide ‘Right to Return’

Posted on: April 8, 2021, 01:21h. 

Last updated on: April 8, 2021, 01:54h.

Las Vegas casino union members told state lawmakers this week to back legislation that protects their right to return to their jobs. 

Las Vegas casino union right to return
Las Vegas casino workers picket expressing their support of state legislation that would protect their right to return to their previous jobs. The Culinary Union testified in a Nevada Senate committee this week on why the bill should become law. (Image: Culinary Workers Union Local 226)

Nevada Senate Bill 386, introduced at the end of last month by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, is an act requiring casinos to rehire their workers who were furloughed or permanently let go during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essentially, it would dictate that employers bring back laid-off workers for any job in which they’re qualified.

Known as the “Right to Return” bill, the legislation would mandate that employees who lost their jobs because of impacts caused by the coronavirus be first offered to resume their roles once those positions are again needed.

The law would cover workers in casinos, stadiums, and various other hospitality and travel-related industries. 

Tens of thousands of Nevada’s workers have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic due to no fault of their own. Workers should get their jobs back when businesses reopen,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union Local 226 organization.

The Culinary Union represents 60,000 workers in the Nevada gaming industry. 

“They have already been unemployed for over a year, dealing with an overrun unemployment system, food insecurity, housing issues, and a range of other issues due to the public health and economic crisis. Knowing they will get their job back would at least give workers hope they will not become homeless or struggle to feed their families, which are fears too many Nevadans and their families are dealing with every day,” she said.

Law Has Opponents

Critics of SB386 claim the bill would lead to unnecessary litigation. The legislation includes a caveat that would allow employees to bring civil action against their former employers if they feel their “right to return” to work included in the bill was violated.

Nevada Sen. Keith Pickard (R-Henderson) voiced concerns during yesterday’s hearing.

“The employer is likely not to hire every employee that they laid off on the same day,” Pickard explained. “Now, they’re going to have to face a court to justify why they laid off a certain person.”

Boyd Gaming and Caesars Entertainment were two casino operators that immediately opposed the bill. 

Ann Silver, CEO of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, also expressed antagonism to the bill. She said federal and state laws already exist to protect workers from discrimination and unfair labor practices.

Workers Say Casinos Not Loyal

Culinary brought their own people to the Senate committee hearing to relay their frustrations with attempting to regain their previous employment.  

Mario Sandoval, a former food server at Binion’s and a Culinary Union member for 39 years, says he has worked for the Fremont Street casino since he was 21 years old.

We should not be replaced or abandoned for younger workers when we’ve spent our lives working for our companies. We should not have to start our careers over when we are so close to retiring with dignity,” he testified. 

“Knowing I have a job to return to would give me hope, and hope can take me a long way,” Sandoval added.

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday.