Culinary Union Leader Retires

Geoconda Argüello-Kline (l.), secretary-treasurer of Nevada’s powerful Culinary Workers Union, has retired after 32 years. She called her role as a Local 226 leader “an honor of my life.”

Culinary Union Leader Retires

Geoconda Argüello-Kline of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union Local 226 retired on February 3. For 32 years, Argüello-Kline was a pivotal figure in workplace rights for hospitality employees; she served in the secretary-treasurer role for the last 10 years.

“It is with so much love in my heart that I say it has been an honor of my life to represent Culinary Union members as an elected officer,” Argüello-Kline wrote in a letter to union members.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Argüello-Kline served as a director in the campaign to unionize the Rio and in the 1990s, was an organizer in the labor strike against the New Frontier. That strike was one of the longest in U.S. history, lasting more than six years.

“Thinking back over my 32 years,” Argüello-Kline wrote, “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.”

Born and raised in Managua, Nicaragua, she arrived in Miami as a refugee in 1979 and moved to Las Vegas in 1983, where she worked as a guest room attendant at Fitzgeralds. She joined the Culinary Union in 1990 as an organizer, and in 2012 became secretary-treasurer. She was the first female and first Hispanic to lead the 60,000-member union.

Nevada State AFL-CIO Executive Secretary-Treasurer Susie Martinez said that workers across Nevada “are better for having Geoconda Argüello-Kline’s service in our labor movement.”

“In Nevada, we often look at our Culinary union siblings for inspiration on what can be achieved. Just the past two years with the odds stacked against them fighting the pandemic they set national precedent on how to fight for worker safety and job protections under the leadership of Argüello-Kline,” Martinez said in a statement. “With 32 years of service and countless campaigns won, improving the lives of workers, Argüello-Kline’s impact stretches across our state.”

Ted Pappageorge is the union’s new secretary-treasurer and Diana Valles is now president.