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Howard Stutz

Arguello-Kline becomes first female Hispanic leader of Culinary

12 December 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Culinary Workers Local 226 promoted Geoconda Arguello-Kline, a former housekeeper and Nicaraguan refugee, to become the organization's secretary-treasurer.

The appointment was announced Tuesday.

Arguello-Kline becomes the first female and first Hispanic to lead the 60,000-member union that represents hotel and restaurant workers in Las Vegas.

In the organization's hierarchy, secretary-treasurer is the union's highest elected position. Arguello-Kline had held the Culinary's No. 2 leadership role as president.

She replaces D. Taylor, who last month was elected president of UNITE HERE, the Culinary's parent international organization.

Taylor had served as the Culinary's secretary-treasurer since 2002. The late Jim Arnold served as secretary-treasurer from 1987 to 2002.

Born in Managua, Nicaragua, Arguello-Kline fled the country 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.

She moved to Las Vegas in 1983 and worked at Fitzgeralds as a guest room attendant.

She became part of the Culinary staff in 1990 as union organizer. She worked the picket line of the more than six-year-long strike against the Frontier, which in ended in 1998.

In 2002, Arguello-Kline was elected president of Culinary Local 226.

"I'm tremendously honored to take on this position," Arguello-Kline said in a statement. "It is a testament to our diverse and incredible members that has put me here. It is an honor to represent our members every day. We undoubtedly have challenges ahead, but I'm confident that we will overcome them by working as a union."

Arguello-Kline helped lead a citywide effort to create contract language for housekeepers. She currently serves as vice president of UNITE HERE and is a board member of the Culinary Academy and Citizenship Project.