ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (AP) — A union representing housekeeping workers at Atlantic City’s casinos says four of the resorts are failing to comply with a COVID-related requirement that hotel rooms be cleaned daily, urging the state on Wednesday to to intervene
Local 54 of the Unite Here union said state officials must enforce an order issued in 2020 by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy requiring hotel rooms to be cleaned and disinfected daily. The rule was enacted as casinos reopened after a 3 1/2 month shutdown early in the pandemic.
The union filed a complaint with the state Department of Community Affairs on Wednesday, accusing Caesars, Harrah’s, Tropicana and the Golden Nugget of not cleaning all occupied hotel rooms every day as required by the order, which the state health department upheld .
The Department of Community Affairs said it is responsible for enforcing daily cleaning requirements and has the power to carry out inspections based on complaints received. She declined further comment, noting that she had just received the union’s complaint.
“These housekeeping folks in Atlantic City are just part of a larger workforce that is systematically overworked and understaffed,” said Bob McDevitt, the union chairman, who is in the midst of talks with Atlantic City’s nine casinos for a replacement deal. that expired at the end of the last month.
The union brought up claims from several housekeepers that there were not enough workers to keep up with demands to clean every room every day. The workers said their employers directed them to clean rooms where guests have priority check-out.
Teresa Lopez, a housekeeper at Caesars, said the extra workload of cleaning dirtier rooms that have been littered for several days is taking its toll on her health.
“I feel more pain after cleaning these spaces; I have to take painkillers,” she said at a press conference on the boardwalk in front of the casino, adding that she signed the complaint to the state.
Bina Vashi, a housekeeper at Hard Rock who did not sign the complaint, added: “Right now we have to work even harder. These rooms are so dirty, dirty.”
The phenomenon is not limited to Atlantic City. Hospitality executives say the combination of a shortage of housekeeping staff and a reluctance by some guests to let hotel workers into their rooms during their stay has resulted in daily housekeeping being halted Standard in resorts across the country.
Three of the four casinos listed in the union’s complaint (Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana) are owned by Caesars Entertainment, which is the focus of the union’s bargaining efforts, along with MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata, which has not been accused of inadequate cleaning. Caesars Entertainment declined to comment.
The union also said the Golden Nugget posted a sign at its front desk in April advising guests that daily housekeeping was not available “at this time” but guests could request fresh linens and towels.
Tom Pohlman, the Golden Nugget’s vice president and general manager, said its casino “holds to the highest standards and all rooms are fully cleaned to a very strict protocol between all new reservations.”
“We advise hotel guests upon check-in about available and on-demand housekeeping services,” he said. “Any time a guest requests housekeeping, we absolutely honor that request.”
He said that staffing for Golden Nugget, as is the case with the other casinos, “has been an ongoing issue and there are times when staff shortages do not allow us to clean all of the overnight stays. Due to COVID, many guests have not requested housekeeping during their stay, which averages less than two days.”
However, Patrick Stewart, executive director of the New Jersey Hotel and Lodging Association, said its members have no shortage of domestic help and that they “maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and safety in the workplace, and that includes additional state, local and federal health and safety authorities.” Safety protocols adopted since the pandemic.”
This story has been corrected to show that one of the housekeepers cited did not sign the complaint.
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