- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Housekeepers, cooks and bartenders are rallying outside Donald Trump’s hotel to draw attention to their efforts to unionize workers at the property just off the Las Vegas Strip.

To the beat of drummers and under the watchful eye of Las Vegas police, Culinary Union members and others began a short march Friday from Las Vegas Boulevard to the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, where they say they are rallying because the hotel has blocked efforts to organize its workforce.

In a statement announcing the protest, the union said there are 500 Trump employees who are seeking to unionize and pointed at the slogan of the company namesake’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

“Donald Trump says he wants to ‘make America great again,’ ” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, a Culinary Union officer. “Mr. Trump should start right here in Las Vegas with workers at his hotel.”

Trump’s political campaign referred questions about the labor union rally to The Trump Organization in New York. Eric Trump, the company’s executive vice president of development and acquisitions and a son of Donald, said claims the unionizing workers have been harassed or intimidated were untrue. He added that the hotel’s several hundred employees have been happy, saying it was likely why the hotel hadn’t unionized since opening in 2008.

The union cancelled a vote among workers about a month and a half ago when it realized it didn’t have the votes and the effort would have been “utterly unsuccessful,” Eric Trump said.

Culinary Union spokeswoman Bethany Khan confirmed the vote was postponed, but she said it was delayed by the National Labor Relations Board while it investigates additional labor claims against the hotel.

Of 13 complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Trump’s Vegas operations since 2014, four were withdrawn and two were informally settled. Those that remain open allege the hotel tried to coerce employees not to join, retaliated against them and in one case fired an employee. Details of the allegations were not available on the labor board’s website.

The hotel settled with the board in January. While admitting no labor-law wrongdoing, the company agreed to post a notice to employees telling them the company had rescinded the suspension of several employees and paid them back wages after they were disciplined for union work.

The posting also told employees they wouldn’t be dissuaded from wearing union buttons or coerced with better offers of benefits to not join.

Khan said the effort to unionize started in earnest last year when workers approached the union and delivered a petition to the hotel’s management. The union is waiting for the hotel to cooperate with a card-check vote and agree to remain neutral, she said.

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