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Desert Companion

Zeit: Hospitality corners please

More than 20 years ago, a couple dozen Strip hotels and the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 created a training academy to provide the employers in the state’s biggest industry with a reliable pipeline of high-quality staff. Since then, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas has trained some 40,000 people to cook, bake, serve and bus in kitchens and restaurants, and to straighten, scour and spiff up hotel rooms and event spaces. Curious about what it takes to join the ranks of the city’s housekeeping army, Desert Companion writer Heidi Kyser observed some guest room attendants (called GRAs) in training one recent afternoon.

$679 cost of GRA course (uniform included), unless the student has already been a contracted hotel’s employee for six months; then, it’s free

70 hours How long it takes to learn cart loading, bed making, cleaning methods, safe chemical-handling and room-check procedures

45 hours How long it takes to learn English in the optional vocational language class

5 minutes Time within which a GRA has to make a bed, from dirty and rumpled to crisp and clean, by the end of the program

20 minutes Time it takes an average Desert Companion staffer to make his bed, minus the clean sheets

Support comes from

15 Average number of rooms a GRA has to clean in one day

One hour Length of her paid lunch break in an eight-hour workday

91 percent Portion of hotel housekeepers in a recent survey who reported work-related pain

11,000 Approximate number of housekeepers the Culinary Union represents

$21/hour Starting salary of GRAs at hotels with union contracts, including benefits

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