Las Vegas hotel workers demand panic buttons
Las Vegas – 25 January 2018 –
The union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers in Las Vegas will ask casino-resort operators to give every housekeeper a “panic button” as it begins negotiating new contracts amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, Associated Press reported.
Leaders of the Culinary Union will bring the request to the bargaining table next month on behalf of the more than 14,000 housekeepers who work on the Las Vegas Strip and the destination’s downtown area. The push is in line with ordinances recently approved in other cities that provide hotel workers with some protections.
“We want safety for all the workers,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the union’s secretary-treasurer. “We want to have some language in the contract to protect more the people who work inside the hotels. We know what’s going on with sexual harassment. No woman should have to go through that.”
The union declined to provide figures related to threatening situations that housekeepers have faced in recent years while working at Las Vegas hotels. Court records show some housekeepers have been brutally attacked in the past.
Authorities accused a 22-year-old man of sexually assaulting a housekeeper who was cleaning a bathroom in 2016 at the Boulder Station hotel-casino. Police said the man stormed the room, punched the woman in the face, closed the doors and assaulted her. The victim told police that she yelled, but the man only hit her harder.
A 19-year-old man was arrested in 2011 after a 65-year-old housekeeper was punched in the face and sexually assaulted inside a room at Bally’s.
In New York City, housekeepers at unionised hotels have been carrying panic buttons – wireless devices that alert managers if they are attacked – since 2013. The move was in response to a union effort after a maid accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then-leader of the International Monetary Fund, of sexual assault.
Following the lead of voters in Seattle in 2016, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance in October requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to workers by next summer if they work alone in guest rooms.