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Trump’s hotel workers celebrate two major union victories

The Las Vegas workers fought for more than a year and some faced retaliation from Trump’s company.

CREDIT: Alice Ollstein
CREDIT: Alice Ollstein

More than a year after winning a union election, about 500 workers at Donald Trump’s Las Vegas hotel announced Wednesday that they have successfully bargained their first contract. While specific details are not yet available, the Culinary Workers Union says the four-year agreement “will provide the employees with annual wage increases, a pension, family health care, and job security.”

Whereas workers at the Trump International Hotel used to make about $3 less than the average hotel worker’s wage in the city, union communications director Bethany Khan told ThinkProgress that under the new contract, “wages and benefits will be comparable to the rest of the union members on the Las Vegas Strip.”

The contract victory comes after months of legal battles and tense negotiations. Last December, shortly after the workers voted to unionize, hotel management refused to recognize the union and attempted to have the results thrown out. Workers at the hotel told ThinkProgress they faced intimidation and retaliation from management, who brought in lawyers to attempt to dissuade them from organizing.

“We still won, even with all that pressure.”

“They pressured us a lot [to vote no],” housekeeper Marisela Olvera said shortly after the vote. “They told us the union only wants our money, that if we supported the union we’d lose our jobs, that the company would put our names on a blacklist and no other hotels in Las Vegas would hire us. They told us to think of what our children would do if we were out of work. Everyone was very stressed. People were afraid. But bendito sea Diós, we still won, even with all that pressure.”

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The National Labor Relations Board ruled against the company earlier this year, and demanded they immediately recognize the union and begin bargaining. Instead, management fired one worker who led the organizing effort and denied a promotion to another. This summer, on the very day Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination, they were paid a $11,200 federal settlement over the illegal retaliation.

CREDIT: Kira Lerner
CREDIT: Kira Lerner

UNITE HERE, the national parent union of hotel workers, also announced Wednesday that they have struck an agreement with Donald Trump’s newly-opened hotel in Washington, D.C. “to permit an orderly organizing campaign.”

John Boardman, the president of UNITE HERE’s local D.C. shop, said the agreement “satisfies the union’s goal to represent and ensure strong working conditions for hospitality workers.”

As Trump prepares to assume the presidency, his D.C. hotel has become a lightening rod for controversy. Two famous restauranteurs canceled plans to open up eateries in the building following Trump’s campaign trail speeches in which he disparaged immigrants. Protests and pickets outside the building remain a frequent occurrence. Trump’s incoming administration may also be running afoul of the Constitution by allegedly pressuring diplomats and other representatives of foreign countries to patronize his hotel.

The General Services Administration has confirmed that Trump’s lease of the property will violate federal conflict-of-interest rules once he takes office in January, but he has so far refused to sell his company or divest. Ethics and legal experts on both sides of the political spectrum see this as an impeachable offense.