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November 23, 2014

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Former housekeeper first woman to lead Culinary union in Las Vegas

Geoconda Arguello-Kline, a former housekeeper and union organizer, has been elected to the top position with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas, the first woman to hold the post of secretary-treasurer.

She replaces D. Taylor, who left the post to head UNITE HERE, the Culinary's parent union, which represents about 250,000 workers nationwide.

“I’m tremendously honored to take on this position. It is a testament to our diverse and incredible members that has put me here,” Arguello-Kline, who was the first Latina elected president of Local 226, said in a statement. The local union represents about 60,000 workers.

Arguello-Kline left Managua, Nicaragua, as a political refugee in 1979. She arrived in Miami with her two children and worked a series of service jobs, including housekeeping and truck driving.

In 1983, at her brother’s suggestion, she moved to Las Vegas. She found a job as a guest room attendant at the Fitzgeralds Casino downtown.

In 1990, Arguello-Kline was hired as a union organizer. She was one of the leaders on the picket line for six years, four months and ten days during a strike at the Frontier on the Las Vegas Strip.

In 2002, she was elected president of Local 226 and today serves as vice president of UNITE HERE and is a board member of the Culinary Academy and Citizenship Project.

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  1. Looks like an American success story. But couldn't she have stayed in Nicaragua if she was going to end up a communist anyway?