Document shows shutdown toll on Trump hotel in Las Vegas: 552 layoffs

CLOSE

Upon his departure from the White House, President Trump discusses an internal administration report on the potential COVID-19 death toll for May USA TODAY

LAS VEGAS – Documents have been made public detailing the layoffs of more than 500 workers at the hotel partly owned by President Donald Trump.

In an April letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Trump International Hotel Las Vegas notified officials that 552 workers would temporarily lose their jobs.

“Based on the fluid and rapidly evolving nature of this situation, however, at this time we are unable to provide a specific date at which we will be able to recommence regular hotel operations and return affected employees to work,” human resources director LaDawndre Stinson wrote in the letter posted to DETR’s website.

Read the full letter here: 

Almost all of the employees are represented by the Culinary Union, Nevada’s most powerful labor organization representing 60,000 hotel-casino workers.

The Trump hotel in Las Vegas is in part owned by the Trump Organization, a company that is managed by Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr.

In response to mandated COVID-19 business closures, the Trump Organization laid off or furloughed hotel employees in New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, Vancouver, Honolulu and Las Vegas, according to The Washington Post.

Trump International Hotel officials did not respond to USA TODAY Network requests for comment.

Trump on Nevada shutdown of Strip: ‘OK with it’

Trump has addressed the shutdown of his own ventures and subsequent job cuts across the country, including in Nevada.

“You can’t have many hundreds of employees standing around doing nothing,” Trump said at the White House on April 21, noting that social distancing regulations have closed clubs, hotels and golf courses. “There’s no customer. You’re not allowed to have a customer.”

Trump gave qualified support to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s closure amid the pandemic – even though the move shut his own hotel.

“They closed a big hotel down in Nevada that I have in Las Vegas. It’s a very severe step he took. I’m OK with it,” Trump said. “But you could call that one either way.”

Trump’s friend Phil Ruffin

Trump co-owns the Las Vegas hotel with Phil Ruffin, a billionaire casino mogul who also owns the iconic Treasure Island resort across the street. Ruffin and Trump are business partners – and good friends.

It was Ruffin who took Trump to a Nordstrom parking lot in Las Vegas to show him a parcel of undeveloped land, according to the Associated Press, where Trump International Hotel opened in 2008.

That same year Trump was Ruffin’s best man when he married Oleksandra Nikolayenko at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Public documents show Ruffin’s Treasure Island notified Nevada officials there would also be mass layoffs at the resort: 2,225 employees put on furlough. 

“These furloughs will continue indefinitely,” wrote human resources vice president Gayle Kurokawa. “but are intended to be temporary and last less than six months.”

Read the full letter here:

Megadonor Sheldon Adelson keeps staff on payroll

Across Las Vegas Boulevard is another important figure in Trump’s universe: Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson. 

With an estimated net worth of $41.4 billion, Adelson is the wealthiest person in Nevada and one of the 20 wealthiest people in America.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are the GOP’s most prominent financial backers. They contributed more than $123 million to conservative politicians in the 2018 election cycle – more than any other U.S. citizen.

His Las Vegas Sands Corp. is one of the largest casino and resort companies in the world with the Venetian and Palazzo resorts on the Strip and lucrative casinos in Macau.

Story continues below

Unlike Trump and Ruffin, Adelson has emerged as one of the few billionaire hotel operators to keep paying employees throughout the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I hope to do that right up until the time that we can reopen our businesses,”  Adelson wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal – a newspaper he owns. “It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s good business.”

Contributing: USA TODAY, Associated Press. 

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here

Read or Share this story: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2020/05/06/nevada-coronavirus-trump-international-hotel-lays-off-552-employees-las-vegas/5176622002/