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Mirtha Rojas is originally from La Habana, Cuba and came to the United States to join his brother that had lived in Miami since Mirtha was a child. Mirtha describes her childhood as many happy moments where she learned and enjoyed musical instruments from a young age, and became a music teacher in Cuba as well. Mirtha states after her parents had died, she faced some difficult times and her brother invited her to come to Miami where she arrived in 2009 along with her nine year old daughter. Mirtha expresses how gratefuls she is to her brother that helped her but Mirtha wanted to be on her own and form her own path. So she decided to move to Las Vegas, Nevada and “spread her own wings” as she describes, although her brother was sad to see her move.
The first jobs that Mirtha encountered in Las Vegas were tough, with low salary and poor treatment. She started as a housekeeper in a hotel and describes the long hours worked and the lack of benefits or stability in such jobs; and the struggles she endured along with her daughter who wanted to go back home since Mirtha worked long hours and could not dedicate to her family as she wanted to. That was until Mirtha applied at a fair job recommended by a friend, and without even knowing she was part of the Culinary Union of Las Vegas once she was hired in the position as housekeeper for the MGM Grand Hotel. Mirtha explains how she was informed that she will be part of the Union from that point on and she still did not know what those “benefits” people talked about meant.
Once Mirtha found out all the benefits that the Union offered their members, such assistance with purchasing a home, health benefits, job security where employees are protected from layoffs and wrongful terminations, retirement benefits and more. As Mirtha describes, all these benefits made a very positive impact on her life and the fact that her salary took on a big increase where she was able to spend more quality time with her daughter and provide for her family.
Mirtha states she was then able to transfer to the brand new property that MGM opened back in 2009 where she maintains a high seniority status and continues to have her vacation benefits from when she started at MGM.
Mirtha relates the differences she experiences between non Union and Union jobs, and states that it is a complete turn where non Union places mistreat and take advantage of employees, pay low salaries and overwork their employees as well with an environment that she describes as “disrespectful.” Mirtha learned from the Union and felt the motivation to join the Union efforts in supporting employees and working on contracts for the benefits of the workers that are members of the Union like her.
Mirtha then became part of the Union efforts to outreach to members and spread the importance of being a Union member, and also familiarized herself with the negotiations of the Union and the different casinos in Las Vegas for increases in salary and benefits for workers.
Mirtha mentioned how she was able to become a US citizen through assistance and guidance from the Union as well, and states is proud to have become a member and that if she had to do it again, she would have been a Union worker sooner; and advises other Latinx workers to seek to become part of the Union.