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Trump Employees Vote to Unionize, Protest in Nevada

Some 500 Trump International workers have organized a protest to coincide with this week’s GOP caucuses.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Some 500 Trump International workers have organized a protest to coincide with this week's GOP caucuses. (Photo: Joseph Sohm /

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Riding high on the South Carolina primary results, Donald Trump appears sailed into Nevada. But not without encountering a stumbling block.

Some 500 Trump International workers have organized a protest to coincide with this week’s GOP caucuses.

The employees voted to unionize last year and have been fighting it out with the hotel ever since. Even after a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certifying the union, Trump International Hotel refuses to recognize it. The result could be explosive, as workers urge the hotel to negotiate.

Formal plans to initiate a union election began in the summer of 2015, when workers petitioned for an election and won the right to hold one. One political candidate, Hillary Clinton, took a particular interest, appearing at the property in October 2015 and expressing solidarity with workers.

The workers won unionization after a tabulation of ballots, and almost immediately, Trump International filed an objection. The hotel claimed that members of Unite Here Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Unite Here Bartenders Union 165 had pressured the employees into voting to join the union.

Coercion during union elections – on both sides – is strictly prohibited, and the NLRB takes such accusations extremely seriously. Last week, the agency issued a ruling stated that it hadn’t identified any wrongdoing, and the election results stood.

Now the clock is ticking on Trump International. The hotel has two options – it can either recognize the union and agree to meet with workers to establish a contract, or it can opt to contest the opinion of the NLRB.

Workers are eager to see the hotel lay the matter to rest and get started on an agreement to increase access to fair pay and benefits, as well as workplace protections. Trump International employees work in a variety of capacities across housekeeping, culinary, pool maintenance, and other departments. Like many hotel employees, they work long, grueling hours, sometimes exposed to dangerous conditions – housekeepers do a lot of bending and lifting, while pool staff handle harsh chemicals.

Trump’s campaign has consistently promised to “make America great again,” as he likes to put it. And who better for the task than America’s workers?

Service workers commonly come from immigrant backgrounds – the very same people Trump wants to keep out of the U.S. – and yet they drive a huge percentage of the hospitality industry. Without employees, Trump International would be impossible to operate.

Many of those employees or their families came to the United States in search of the American dream – something Trump insists he wants to revive and make available to everyone. Should the hotel firm recognize the union, the decision would only live up to Trump’s claims.

Workers hope to force Trump’s hand with a very public, very noisy protest when he arrives to promote the campaign during the state’s caucuses on Tuesday.

This isn’t the first Trump property to unionize, and it won’t be the last. Workers have also invited Trump to meet with them directly – accepting the offer could be a smart political move, but one that’s unlikely to happen.

Incidentally, if you want to be sure you’re staying in a union hotel with workers who benefit from collective bargaining to protect their interests, the Fair Hotel guide can help you locate your best options – and avoid the biggest offenders – when you travel.

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