Posted on: February 12, 2022, 11:36h.
Last updated on: February 12, 2022, 11:37h.
A key leader in the union representing thousands of Nevada casino workers has announced her retirement.
The Culinary Union announced Friday that Geoconda Argüello-Kline was stepping down as the labor group’s secretary-treasurer, which she held for the past 10 years.
Secretary-treasurer is the highest-ranking position within the union, which represents 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno casinos.
The Nicaraguan native arrived in the US 43 years ago as a political refugee and moved to the Las Vegas area in 1983. She worked at the Fitzgerald Hotel in Las Vegas and helped lead a six-month picketing campaign in 1989 to get better benefits and working conditions for her colleagues. A year later, she took on a staff position within the union.
“It’s been my honor to have had the opportunity to represent and advocate for the tremendous rank-and-file workers in my 32 years of organizing,” she said in a statement. “I’m proud to see what Culinary Union members have been able to achieve in 87 years, and I’m thankful to every Culinary Union member who has worked so hard to preserve and grow member benefits against incredible odds.”
Members Notified, Thanked in Letter
Argüello-Kline informed union members of her retirement in a letter dated last week. She said she considered it a high honor to represent the workers and thanked them for their trust in her leadership.
Thinking back over my 32 years, there is truly nothing we didn’t try or do in the fight to protect workers, organize, expand benefits, demand our fair share as companies made record profits, elect political leaders who will represent workers, hold elected leaders accountable for their actions or inactions, and champion issues that are important to working families,” she wrote.
Among the campaigns she helped organize included the Frontier Strike, a protracted fight that started in September 1991. More than 550 workers manned the picket line for nearly six-and-a-half years, and when an agreement was reached, all striking workers were allowed to return to work with back pay and benefits.
More recently, the Culinary Union has been trying to get recognized as the representative for workers at Station Casinos and secure the first contract with the Las Vegas-based gaming operator.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the union fought to extend benefits to laid-off casino workers, provide food and necessities to their families, and lobby for legislation that protected their rights to return to their jobs safely.
Her last day with the union was Feb. 3.
While Argüello-Kline will step away from the union, she will continue to hold a seat on the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board and chair the Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project.
Pappageorge, Valles Promoted
Ted Pappageorge will replace Argüello-Kline as the union’s secretary-treasurer. The Las Vegas native previously served as its president over the last 10 years.
Diana Valles succeeds Pappageorge as president. Both took on their new roles on Feb. 4.
The union’s new leader said the labor group and its members owe Argüello-Kline “an incredible debt of gratitude” for her efforts to protect casino workers.
“Our union and working families are stronger than ever because of Geoconda’s 32-years of dedication and sacrifice,” Pappageorge said. “Diana and I are honored to take on these new roles, and we will continue the fight to win justice for workers in Nevada.”