Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 386, which gives hospitality and travel industry workers the right to return to their previous jobs.
The law gives workers who were laid off after March 12, 2020, for economic reasons due to the pandemic the ability to return to their jobs starting July 1, 2021, through August 21, 2022. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which lobbied heavily for the bill, says that thousands of union and non-union hospitality, airport, casino, travel, and stadium workers (including third-party operators at hotels and casinos such as retail shops, restaurants, bars, and parking facilities) are protected under the new law.
At the height of the pandemic, the culinary union estimates that 98 percent of its 60,000 members statewide were laid off and currently only 50 percent are back to work. The culinary union estimates that the new law covers 350,000 hospitality and travel employees statewide.
A majority of unionized hospitality workers already have extended recall protections in their contracts, so most hospitality workers protected by the new SB386 Right to Return law are not unionized.
The new law comes as Clark County returned to 100 percent capacity on June 1, yet many restaurants, bars, and casinos struggle to hire new employees to fill open positions. Lotus of Siam, for example, temporarily closed its location at the Commercial Center, citing staffing issues. The Thai restaurant moved all reservations at that location to its Flamingo Road outpost. Greek Chicken in Southwest Las Vegas closed on Sundays while it attempts to hire new staff.
Station Casinos has no timeline for reopening Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho in North Las Vegas and Fiesta Henderson, and sold the off-Strip Palms, the most upmarket asset in the Station Casinos’ portfolio, to The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for $650 million in cash in May. Boyd Gaming has not reopened Main Street Station in Downtown Las Vegas and Eastside Cannery on Boulder Highway.
Inside casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, some of the biggest restaurants — Joël Robuchon and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand, Rivea from Alain Ducasse at Delano, NoMad Restaurant at NoMad, Manzo inside Eataly at the Park MGM, Aureole at Mandalay Bay, Le Cirque at the Bellagio, and Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at the Waldorf-Astoria — remain closed. The Slanted Door, which opened at the Forum Shops at Caesars just before the state closed nonessential businesses in March 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19, has no known reopening date. Other restaurants that have reopened still operate under reduced hours or only on the weekends when tourists flood the city to pre-pandemic numbers.
Out of more than 70 buffets citywide, only five inside casinos reopened — Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, Garden Buffet at South Point, Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Circus Buffet at Circus Circus, and the MGM Grand Buffet.
April unemployment numbers show 9 percent still out of work in Clark County, up from 8.8 percent in March. Unemployment reached 31.7 percent in Nevada in April 2020 as nonessential businesses closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and 33.3 percent for all of Clark County that same month. Clark County’s unemployment rate in April came in second behind Los Angeles at 9.9 percent among large metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Las Vegas does have cause for hope with major conventions — such as World of Concrete starting today — returning with their throngs of visitors. Resorts World opens June 24, expecting to employ more than 6,000. Virgin Hotels holds its grand opening on Thursday with about 1,300 former Hard Rock employees, a majority of the workforce there.