Post-Pandemic Law Might Help Hotels But Hurt Housekeepers

The legislation lifts the requirement for daily room cleanings.

May 22, 2023

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo recently signed into law a bill that lifts COVID-19 requirements, Fox5 KVVU-TV reports, including a hospitality facility’s obligation to clean rooms daily.

The bill was introduced this spring by State Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop, a Democrat from Las Vegas, the newly signed law repeals a COVID-19 law that was implemented in the summer of 2020, NPR reports.

“It’s time to sunset a COVID house cleaning policy that served its purpose but outlived its necessity,” Loop said at a May hearing.

But Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which represents many Nevada hospitality employees, said the law could also cost hotel workers their jobs.

“We think the industry is attempting to change guests’’ behavior based on the pandemic, and we think that’s bad for everyone,” said the union’s secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge. “Customers are still paying for first class service and first class rooms, but not getting the first class service.”

According to NPR, hospitality executives expressed plans to save on labor, including in housekeeping, on several occasions—even offering guests loyalty points if they skip room cleanings, citing environment sustainability as the reason behind the rewards. The union in return has accused the hotels of “greenwashing” their true intent by using the environment to mask their real reason for avoiding daily cleanings.

But Ayesha Molino, a senior vice president with MGM Resorts International, told state lawmakers that her company is, in fact, responding to guest preferences. “It doesn’t matter if a customer’s staying at the Bellagio or the Luxor,” Molino said during her testimony. “What we have seen is that our customer behavior is very consistent. The rate at which our guests are declining daily housekeeping is nearly double what it was before the pandemic.”

As far hotels wishing to reduce their labor forces, Molino said, “It’s not a matter of us trying to have fewer. It’s that we can’t, rather, attract enough.”

Rawanda Rogers, a housekeeper who also testified, spoke on the difficulty of cleaning a room after several days have passed. “The linen is very heavy from the mountain of wet towels that have been piled up for days,” she said. “We have a lot of party people in the rooms who trash the rooms, and it’s so hard on my body.”

According to NPR, the union plans to raise the issue again later this year during collective bargaining when its current contract expires. “We think these may be strike issues, and we will fight for the very best contracts for our members,” Pappageorge told NPR.

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