With the US presidential election just days away, one group of Donald Trump employees wants America to know they don’t think their boss is fit to be president.
Since voting to unionize last December, employees at Las Vegas’ Trump International Hotel say their famous employer has refused to acknowledge or negotiate with the union. The Trump International Hotel employs more than 500 workers who clean rooms or prepare and serve food and drinks, more than half of whom voted to unionize almost a year ago.
“He says he’s a big negotiator, but he doesn’t negotiate with the workers,” Elsabeth Moges, who has worked as a Trump International housekeeper in Las Vegas for four years, told Business Insider.
In Las Vegas, 95% of hotels on the Strip and in the downtown area are unionized, making Trump Hotel, which the candidate co-owns with billionaire Phil Ruffin, an anomaly. Union workers make about $3 more per hour than workers at Trump Hotel, and receive pensions and healthcare benefits, according to workers and the Culinary Union, Nevada’s powerful hospitality union.
This discrepancy, Moges says, and the desire for greater job security helped drive her and fellow employees to push for a union.
“We work very hard every single day and we’re not appreciated,” she said.
Even before the vote to unionize, the Culinary Union says the hotel attempted to block pro-union efforts. Trump Hotel, meanwhile, has accused union supporters of pressuring workers to vote for the union by saying they would be fired if they didn’t vote for unionization.
The Trump Organisation did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
“He’d tried to do everything he could to intimidate the workers, and scare them, and get them to vote no,” Culinary Union spokesperson Bethany Kahn told Business Insider. “That’s a little concerning for someone heading into Election Day.”
After the move to unionize narrowly passed in December, the hotel argued that the vote had not been fair. In March, a regional National Labour Relations Board certified the union, a decision that was upheld in July by the NLRB’s national headquarters. Still, the Trump International has refused to negotiate with the union, continuing to claim that the group has not been properly certified.
“He’s breaking the law,” Kahn said. “The hotel is operating illegally, as they’re supposed to negotiate any of those changes at the hotel concerning employment and workers with the union.”
In August, the union filed a complaint to the NLRB regarding Trump International’s refusal to bargain, which is illegal. The NLRB has not yet issued a decision on the case.
Trump’s ongoing refusal to negotiate with the union has created many opportunities for workers to speak out against the candidate.
“He says he wants to make America great,” housekeeper Marisela Olvera told ThinkProgress in April. “Well, he should start here in his own house, his own business. He always brags about how he has millions and millions and millions of dollars, but he pays his workers less than most in Las Vegas.”
“Why doesn’t he want to respect us and make time to negotiate,” Celia Vargas, another Trump Hotel employee, told the Los Angeles Times in April. “Like everybody, I’m confused.”
By September, Trump Hotel had still refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the union, after months of protests outside of the Las Vegas property. So, the Culinary Union launched a boycott of all Trump properties, encouraging supporters to stop spending money at Trump’s hotels, golf courses, and other businesses. In October, the union organised taco trucks to form a “wall” outside of the Trump International the week of the third presidential debate.
The union endorsed Hillary Clinton, announcing its support for the candidate in July. The Culinary Union has been aggressively canvassing in the state, and registered 34,000 of its 57,000 members to vote.
The Clinton endorsement is one that many Trump employees — including Moges — stand behind. According to Moges, voting for Trump is “like going backwards.” Clinton represents experience, and a better future for families and children.
“I want somebody at the top who will listen,” says Moges — both at Trump International and as president. “If you don’t listen, how can you improve? He has to listen to the workers.”
So far, she says, Trump has failed to do that at his own hotel.
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