- Legal States
Julie Moraine August 21, 2020 5 min read
Workers Union Says Mississippi’s COVID-19 Policies Ignored
The worker’s union – UNITE HERE Local 23 asked the Mississippi gaming regulator to implement enhanced health and safety protocols ensuring employee protection. The union cited a report which outlined incident reports, number of casino employees tested positive for COVID-19 and recommendations.
A Report Was Prepared by the Workers’ Union and Presented to the State Regulator
A workers union asked the Mississippi Gaming Commission to introduce enhanced protection for casino employees, reported WLOX. UNITE HERE Local 23 represents more than 300,000 casino industry workers in North America. Yesterday, the union revealed its report to the regulator outlining concerns regarding the safety of casino employees.
According to the union’s report, the policies for wearing a mask inside the casinos and social distancing are not followed. This poses a threat for the health and safety of the employees, the union outlined. With that in mind, the report showed that Biloxi casinos have seen a total of 15 cases of positive COVID-19 employees. In addition, the report included statements of employees of both IP Casino and Beau Rivage.
The union’s paper outlined some 25 incident reports following conducted inspections at Beau Rivage, the IP Casino, and Harrah’s Gulf Coast for the period July 16 – August 11. Non-compliant patrons were approached by casino staff and the incidents were resolved for most of the reports, added the union.
Total of 15 Casino Employees Tested Positive for COVID-19, Says the Report
Furthermore the report included details of the departments where the positive COVID-19 employees worked as well as the date of when the test was conducted. At Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, according to the report a total of 10 cases were documented. Based on the breakdown, there were 2 cooks, 4 housekeepers, 2 servers, 1 food runner and 1 dishwasher that tested positive for COVID-19.
When asked if the employer does enough to prevent COVID-19 at the workplace, 47% of Beau Rivage employees answered no. The remaining 21% of the employees said yes, while some 32% replied they don’t know.
On the other hand, at the IP Casino, there were a total of 5 employees who tested positive for COVID-19. All of the employees were a part of the housekeeping department. When asked if the employer does enough to prevent COVID-19 at the workplace only 10% of employees answered yes. In contrast, 65% replied no and 25% of the employees said they didn’t know.
The Operators Respond on the Claims by the Union
The operators in Mississippi did not stand by and quickly answered the claims by the union. Statement, released on Wednesday by the IP Casino reads: “We remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for every guest and team member.“
The operator added that it continues to enforce the health and safety measures that meet or exceed the requirements of federal, state and local health officials. Among those measures, the IP Casino enforces strict social distancing, frequent cleaning on high-traffic areas and surfaces. Furthermore, the operator said that temperature screenings are conducted and face coverings are mandatory.
Beau Rivage also released a statement on Wednesday. The casino, which is owned and operated by MGM shared the company’s Seven-Point Safety Plan along with its statement. “The company offers free testing for BR employees, covers two weeks’ pay if an employee tests positive so the employee can quarantine, and our policy is that if an employee has had close sustained contact with another employee who is Positive then they are required to be tested before coming back to work,” reads the statement.
Furthermore, the operator said that it conducts contact tracing whenever an employee tests positive. In addition, the operator did not miss to mention the marketing campaign by MGM “Take Five” and “I Care”. Those campaigns encourage both employees and visitors to have moment and think if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, prior to attending a public place.
The Recommendations of the Report by the Workers Union
The final page of the union’s report included a list of recommendations. The union called the Mississippi Gaming Commission to amend its guidelines to require daily room cleaning, which is the safety standard currently implemented in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The union asked both the regulator and casinos to take stronger actions when enforcing the existing health and safety guidelines. The guidelines for social distancing and wearing of masks are the key ones, the union said.
The union’s paper also calls for improving of contact tracing programs of the casino operators. The operators should also inform their employees within 24 hours or as quickly as possible in the event of an employee that may have been exposed to COVID-19. In conclusion, the report called the gaming operators to review the Adolfo Fernandez Bill (Nevada Senate Bill No. 4) which was recently signed into law by Governor Sisolak, as a model for an enhanced health and safety standard.