Four Atlantic City casinos not complying with COVID-19 pandemic health code, union says
June 9, 2022
The union of casino workers filed a complaint to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs regarding a health code violation conducted by four casinos in Atlantic City. They claim the casinos are not cleaning their rooms daily as required by the COVID-19 pandemic health code. They demand state investigators investigate and intervene.
The Local 54 division of the Unite Here workers union mentioned the 2020 order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic onset and was issued by Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy.
It was implemented 3 ½ months after the pandemic begins in March and casinos are allowed to reopen. The order said hotel rooms must be cleaned and sanitized every day. The state health department confirmed the order still stands.
A guest from Oklahoma Tameka Calhoun who visited Atlantic City said she always clean every surface in her hotel room. “Number one priority [is] cleanliness,” Calhoun said. “Especially with everything that’s going on around, COVID, and things like that.”
They said the hotels are not following the order because they are unable to hire enough people to clean the rooms since the wages are too low.
The empty positions force employees to prioritize check-out rooms leaving the overnight rooms uncleaned. This leads to fewer cash tips from guests said Iris Sanchez, housekeeper for the Caesar’s Palace.
“They get upset because, ‘Oh, I was there for five days, and you didn’t give me no service. Oh, don’t have to give you a tip,'” Sanchez said. “On top of the pay being low, it’s just terrible.”
Sanchez's co-worker Teresa Lopez admits to working six days a week due to fewer workers. “The body, my feet, my hand. [I take] Advil, Tylenol. This is all day,” she said.
The union said the problem will go away if the casino would give higher wages to its current and future employees. This is in line as the workers are currently demanding higher wages as well after failing to renew a contract between the casinos and the union.
Tom Pohlman, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Golden Nugget Casino reached out to Eyewitness News with the following statement.
“Golden Nugget holds itself to the highest standards and all rooms are fully cleaned with a very stringent protocol between all new reservations. Staffing has been an ongoing issue and there are times when staffing shortages do not allow us to clean all overnight stays. Due to COVID, many guests have requested no cleaning during their stay, which on average is less than 2 days.
We advise hotel guests on available and on-demand housekeeping services at check-in. Any time a guest requests housekeeping services, we absolutely honor that request. Golden Nugget offers bonuses for housekeeping staff that clean room credits above and beyond what is required.”
Meanwhile, the New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs also released the following statement.
“The Division of Codes and Standards, Bureau of Housing Inspection received a formal complaint late afternoon today. We cannot comment beyond this since the complaint was just received.
Any complaints with regard to non-compliance with NJAC 5:10 or NJSA 55:13A may be sent to BHIInspections@dca.nj.gov or by calling 609-633-6227. Complaints will be investigated by inspection staff.”