Las Vegas Stadium Authority Reappoints Board Members, Dismisses Culinary Union Leader

Posted on: December 17, 2019, 11:12h. 

Last updated on: December 17, 2019, 01:57h.

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, a union leader who serves as secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, garnered widespread support in her nomination for the Las Vegas Stadium Authority (LVSA) Board of Directors.

Culinary union leader Las Vegas Stadium Authority
Culinary Union leader Geoconda Arguello-Kline had much support to join the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, but her candidacy was rejected by the Clark County Commission. (Image: Culinary Union)

US Senators, Nevada officials, and casino executives voiced support for Arguello-Kline, arguing the stadium board needs more diverse representation, as well as a seasoned hospitality expert who will represent the working class. But on Tuesday, her nomination was voted down by the Clark County Commission.

Laborers Union head Tommy White’s term is set to expire December 31. The Clark County Commission is tasked with appointing his seat, and fielded applicant submissions such as Arguello-Kline’s, as well as White’s reapplication.

Roughly 100 Culinary Union members packed the Commission Chambers to show their support and present their case for why she should sit on the stadium board. However, the commission instead voted 5-2 in favor of reappointing White for another unpaid, four-year term that will run through January 1, 2024.

The commission additionally reappointed Jan Jones-Blackhurst to another term. She sits on the Caesars Entertainment Board of Directors, which is an official casino partner of the Allegiant Stadium.

The Culinary Union is the largest local chapter of the nationwide Unite Here labor group. Culinary Local 226 and associate Bartenders Union Local 165 represent 60,000 workers employed in the Las Vegas and Reno gaming and hospitality industries.

The LVSA is responsible for ownership and oversight of the $2 billion football stadium west of the Strip and I-15 that will become the home of the NFL Raiders next year.

Union Defeat

Arguello-Kline has been a vocal critic of the LVSA board makeup. The 10-member agency consists of just one person of color, and two women – one of whom is a non-voting ex-officio.

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren lent his backing to her appointment.

I believe having a hospitality expert like Ms. Arguello-Kline on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board of Directors is important as the construction phase of the stadium project nears its end and we begin to hire and train the workers that will actually operate the stadium,” Murren explained.

Support also came from Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D), as well as former Sen. Harry Reid (D). Reid said, “Clark County’s diversity must be recognized. There is not a woman of color on the board.”

Current US Nevada Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen – both Democrats – issued a joint letter of support that read, “Ms. Arguello-Kline has been a leader in our community when it comes to diversity, inclusion, and workers’ rights … and her experience will be invaluable to the Board of Directors.”

Despite the extensive endorsements, Clark County went with White.

“The Clark County Commission let Nevadans down today with their refusal to appoint to the board a qualified candidate who understands hospitality jobs and workforce development,” the Culinary Union tweeted. “Representation matters. The Clark County Commission missed an opportunity to show their commitment to equity and diversity today.”

Board Reappointments 

Terms for three other Las Vegas Stadium Authority board members are set to expire at the end of the year. Chairman Steve Hill, vice chair Ike Lawrence Epstein, and Scott Nielson are all seeking reappointment.

Governor Steve Sisolak (D) is responsible for Hill and Nielson’s positions, and is expected to reappoint both. The LVSA is tasked with selecting the vice chair, and is expected to again pick Epstein.