ATLANTIC CITY—Along with all other non-essential business, all casinos in the United States have been closed since March in an attempt to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as some states prepare to reopen, casino workers and their union, UNITE HERE, want to ensure that appropriate health protections are in place to safeguard both workers and casino guests.
“Hundreds of thousands of workers are employed in the gaming industry in the United States, and it is imperative that any plan made to reopen these facilities involves input from both workers and their union,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor, “The health and safety of both workers and casino guests is our union’s top priority, which is why UNITE HERE consulted with public health professionals and industrial hygiene experts to develop a set of health and sanitation guidelines for gaming facilities. The casino companies need to work with us to ensure a healthy and safe environment when casinos re-open, and if they won’t, the gaming regulators of the states in which they operate must take action.”
- Prevention: This includes testing of workers for the virus and antibodies and screening both workers and guests on entry (temperature checks), as well as reducing the number of surfaces that are touched by multiple people.
- Protection: PPE should be made widely available to workers and guests alike. Also, steps should be taken to maintain appropriate distancing among guests and workers in each facility.
- Enhanced cleaning: More frequent and more intensive cleaning of all surfaces will be necessary. So too will ensuring that workers have the appropriate training and sufficient time to follow cleaning protocols.
- Implementation and enforcement: These guidelines will require detailed protocols unique to each gaming facility. Clear lines of authority, accountability, and monitoring must be established. To ensure that workers have a voice in ongoing implementation and enforcement, joint labor-management health and safety committees should be created.
“Since March, I’ve stayed home to do my part to flatten the COVID-19 curve and protect my family and my community,” said Gladis Blanco, a guest room attendant at Bellagio, a MGM Resorts International property, “I’m ready to go back to work, and I know my co-workers in CITY and in casinos around the country are too, but we need to know that we’ll be safe when we return. We need the protections that these health and safety guidelines will provide. Strong protections that keep both workers and guests safe are essential for the re-opening of the gaming industry to be a success.”
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