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How a button became one of the greatest #MeToo victories

Las Vegas could be the tipping point of industry-wide change

In perhaps one of the most significant showings in the industry, housekeepers and cocktail servers who work at the largest casinos in Las Vegas will soon carry panic buttons allowing them to call for help if they experience sexual harassment or abuse on the job.

Two major casino operators, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, agreed in contract negotiations with unions in July 2018 to give panic buttons to workers who are vulnerable to sexual harassment. The labor contracts cover 36,000 service workers at the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and other iconic casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, according to the Culinary Workers Union’s Local 226.

Las Vegas casino housekeepers, bartenders, and cocktail servers have been pushing managers to protect them from harassment as the #MeToo movement gathered steam; this especially hit home after news broke that casino titan Steve Wynn allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted female workers at his casinos. Wynn has denied the allegations.

About 59 percent of the Las Vegas cocktail servers and 27 percent of the hotel housekeepers said they had been sexually harassed by guests, managers, or others while on the job, according to a May survey of more than 10,000 casino workers. About 72 percent of the Las Vegas cocktail servers and 53 percent of the hotel housekeepers surveyed said guests had done something to make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

“We are here to do our jobs and provide incredible, world-class customer service for our guests,” Maria Landeros, a housekeeper at the MGM Grand, told the Culinary Union at the time. “We are not here to be abused or have people think that just because it’s Las Vegas anything goes.”

Winning panic buttons for hotel workers in Las Vegas may be a turning point that leads to industry-wide change, considering it’s the US city with the largest number of hotel rooms.

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