LAS VEGAS - As far as Nevada's unions are concerned, hotel mogul-turned-Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump should put his money where his mouth is, and pay his hotel's workers in Las Vegas fair and living wages. And recognize their union, too.
The 500-plus workers, who seek to join Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 226, are battling Trump management over recognition, wages and working conditions.
They add hotel management is not only breaking labor law - including verbal and physical assaults and verbal threats - but that they're not following the boss' own campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again!"
So the hotel workers, joined by Teamsters Local 986 members and other unions, took their campaign to the streets with a march through downtown Las Vegas, to Trump's hotel, on the evening of August 21. That came two days after more than 100 of them joined Democratic presidential contender Martin O'Malley in a pro-worker press conference there.
"Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again," Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the 55,000-member local, Nevada's largest, said at the press conference with O'Malley. "Trump should start right here in Las Vegas with workers at his hotel. Many of them are immigrants who work hard to provide for their families. They deserve equal treatment and should be respected for their contributions to this great city," she added.
"I came from Mexico many years ago and became an American citizen to have a better opportunity for me and my family," Maria Jaramillo, a housekeeper at the Trump Las Vegas, told the union. "This country is a nation of immigrants, and we all work hard and deserve to be treated fairly."
Monte Carlo Resort and Casino banquet server Pamela Parre, a native of the U.S., added her union job "gives me the opportunity to provide for my family. That's why I support Trump workers who want to unionize." Trump, she said, "can make America better by treating his employees with dignity and respect, and make their jobs great jobs just like mine."
O'Malley and the other top two Democrats - Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - were in town to address the Nevada AFL-CIO convention. Nevada is one of the more heavily unionized states in the U.S., and the site of the second presidential caucus next year.
The struggle at Trump's hotel "is a big issue for us," Nevada AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Danny Thompson told local media after O'Malley's appearance. "What everyone needs to understand is we're not going to walk away from this fight" for recognition at Trump's hotel. The hotels and casinos on Las Vegas' strip are 95 percent unionized.
O'Malley had a few choice words for Trump, too: "There are a couple things Donald Trump doesn't understand. First, if we want our economy to grow we need to treat our workers with dignity and respect, pay them better and respect their right to organize. Secondly, in every generation, new American immigrants have made our economy stronger and better."