On the campaign trail, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump often trumpets his experience as a job creator and likes to say he gets along with unions very well. Employees at his company’s hotel in Las Vegas, however, say they’ve had quite a different experience with their boss.
Several workers from Trump International Hotel Las Vegas gathered outside the Trump Tower in Manhattan Thursday to protest the company's refusal to recognize their union and sit down at the bargaining table. Since they and hundreds of co-workers voted to join local affiliates of the Unite-Here labor union last December, they say management has resorted to unnecessary stalling tactics. All the workers want, they say, is to start negotiating a contract.
“Mr. Donald Trump is running for president and he’s saying he wants to make America great,” said Maria Jaramillo, a 36-year-old housekeeper with seven years' experience at the hotel. “He can start with the employees at Trump in Las Vegas. Make that change and give us the contract.”
After a majority of workers voted for union representation in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last December, Trump’s company filed objections. It alleged union organizers intimidated and coerced employees into voting yes. However, last month, an NLRB hearing officer disagreed and recommended that the labor board overrule Trump’s objections “in their entirety.” The NLRB will soon decide whether to certify the union election, which would legally require the company to come to the bargaining table.
Workers want the Trump Hotel to drop its objections now and get started on contract talks. The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.
Amid Donald Trump’s soaring White House bid, the workers are taking their cause on the road in the hopes of putting some extra pressure on the company. After a quick stop at Trump’s New York City home and headquarters Thursday, they plan to travel to Louisiana and Michigan, sites of crucial presidential primaries in the coming weeks.
As they gathered outside the Trump Tower Thursday, several of the Vegas hotel workers held signs urging the GOP presidential candidate to “Make America Great Again!” and “Make A Deal With Us”—respective nods to the real estate mogul’s campaign slogan and best-selling book. After a brief protest, a smaller group of workers went inside the building and delivered a petition to a Trump Organization representative asking the company to drop its opposition to the union.
“By getting the union, it would help me a lot with my insurance, my retirement, my job security and a better future for my kids so I could send them to college,” said Jaramillo, who has four children and works 40 hours a week at $14.38 an hour . “I don’t like working in housekeeping, but I have to, you know, so I can support my family.”
She said her husband used to have a decent-paying job in construction before he lost it in the Great Recession. Jaramillo said she has since become the primary breadwinner in her family.
Workers at the vast majority of hotels on the Las Vegas Strip are represented by labor unions. Last year, workers at a Trump-owned hotel in Toronto formed a union and successfully negotiated a first contract.
Jaramillo, an immigrant from Mexico, declined to share her views on Trump’s presidential campaign and controversial positions. Last year, the Republican hopeful infamously accused Mexico of sending “rapists” to the United States and has made the construction of a massive U.S.-Mexico border wall a key piece of his platform.
“At first, I was really angry, but look, I’m a Hispanic, I’m an immigrant and I work at his hotel, so hey,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “We’re just waiting for that contract.”