CLEVELAND, OHIO — Just a few hours before he officially accepts the presidential nomination of the Republican party, Donald Trump agreed to pay a $11,200 federal settlement for retaliating against workers who voted to unionize at his eponymous Las Vegas hotel.
Trump, who claims he “never settles” when sued, agreed to pay the workers after the National Labor Relations Board found that Trump’s corporation had unfairly challenged the union vote and illegally retaliated against the workers who led the organization effort. Trump must now pay back wages to two workers, one of whom the hotel fired and another who was denied a promotion for convincing her 500-plus co-workers to join the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas. Under the terms of the settlement, Trump did not admit breaking federal labor laws.
Workers at the hotel also told ThinkProgress that the Trump corporation threatened and intimidated them in the lead up to the union vote.
Trump co-owns the Vegas hotel with mogul Phil Ruffin, who took the podium Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to extol Trump’s virtues as a boss.
“As a result of his vision, he’s put tens of thousands of American workers to work,” Ruffin said. “And these are high-paid jobs.”
But the workers employed at Trump’s Vegas hotel tell a different story.
Trump hotel housekeeper Maria Jaramillo told ThinkProgress in February that she is paid much less and has much fewer health benefits than workers at other hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.
We’ve all heard Mr. Trump’s appeals to working people. But it’s a ruse, a smokescreen
“At Mandalay Bay I had health insurance for free, a retirement [account], every year I got a raise, I got holiday pay,” she said, explaining that she left that job to raise her children and couldn’t get it back. “Over here [at Trump International] we don’t get an [annual] raise, we have to pay for our insurance, and we have no retirement. It’s a big difference. I’m not making enough to give my kids a better future.”
The Trump International Hotel pays its workers, on average, $3 an hour less than the city’s other hotels. And while the company was forced by the National Labor Relations Board to recognize the union earlier this year, they have so far refused to begin negotiating a contract.
“We deserve one. We’re not second-class workers,” Jaramillo said.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has pitched himself as a friend of the working class, mainly by promising to stop the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. Yet that message may not be resonating in Cleveland, the host city of the RNC.
A group of local workers gathered on the eve of the convention on Sunday to denounce Trump’s record of repeatedly refusing to pay workers and contractors he has hired, of opposing a raise in the federal minimum wage, and of fighting workers’ attempts to organize.
“We’ve all heard Mr. Trump’s appeals to working people,” said Mike Kilbane, a lifelong Cleveland resident and construction worker. “But it’s a ruse, a smokescreen. It’s faux populism, a sad attempt to divide the working class in this country.”
Citing Trump’s dealings with his workers in Las Vegas and elsewhere, Kilbane continued: “This man is a card-carrying member of the ruling class, someone who has known privilege and entitlement his entire life. He puts his own personal gain and profit over any other consideration, and he’ll do anything to make sure it continues.”