LAS VEGAS (AP) – Thousands of hotel, casino and restaurant workers marched on the Las Vegas Strip Friday to underscore their call to employers to hire more people who were on leave last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the reopening of casinos and hotels, Culinary Union officials said about a third of its members – or about 21,000 workers – will remain unemployed about 19 months after the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada.
Many inactive employees have meanwhile exhausted the state unemployment benefits, it said.
“Las Vegas workers built the hospitality industry over the 87 years of the Culinary Union and should focus on how the economy recovers from the devastating effects of COVID-19,” the union said in a statement ahead of the evening event that featured the shift change on a busy weekend with strip sports and entertainment.
“This march is not a protest against any casino company,” said union spokeswoman Bethany Khan on Friday. “It is a march, not a strike, not a rally, action or demonstration.”
Workers shouted “full service restaurants” and “full service dry cleaners” as they marched from Flamingo Road on Las Vegas Boulevard Friday night, where police cordoned off parts of the strip.
The union’s statement said the goal is to highlight that hospitality workers âare willing to cook and serve great food in full-service restaurants, prepare and serve quality drinks and beverages, and ensure that guest rooms cleaned and disinfected daily â.
Casinos across the state have seen a surge in tourism to set monthly profit records, and tourism officials reported that the number of visitors in July hit the million it saw in July 2019 before the pandemic.
A UFC event was planned in the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, the NFL Las Vegas Raiders were to host the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday and NASCAR events without capacity restrictions at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The resorts hosted shows ranging from the Cirque du Soleil productions MystÃ¨re, O, Michael Jackson One, and Beatles Love to the illusionists Penn & Teller and the percussionists Blue Man Group.
At least 20 clubs of various sizes reopened after the coronavirus shutdown, and the large Resorts World Las Vegas complex opened its new Zouk nightclub this month.
Governor Steve Sisolak said he plans to meet with union leaders at the International Union of Elevator Constructors International Convention in Las Vegas on Monday when he is due to talk about the state’s plan to use recent banking infrastructure laws to create high-paying jobs .
“Nevada’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is focused on job creation and worker support,” Sisolak said in a statement Friday.