Hatty Canty came to Las Vegas with little formal education but was able to become an important community leader and the president of the Culinary Worker’s Union. She worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all the workers of Las Vegas.
Hatty Canty’s life has been filled with challenges. Born in Alabama in 1934, she married soon after high school and had two children. She moved from Alabama to San Diego to find better opportunities for herself and children after her marriage broke up. In California, she worked as a housekeeper and cook. Canty then remarried and moved with her new husband to Las Vegas in 1961 who found work with the local garbage disposal company. Canty stayed home with their family to care for ten children.
Canty returned to the job market in 1972 and began to work as a maid at the Thunderbird Hotel. She quit her job when her husband took ill to care for him until his death. After her husband died, Canty attempted to find a job that would allow her to support and care for her children. She believed she found that as a janitor for the Clark County School District. Difficulties with scheduling forced her to leave the school district and she began to work in private homes as a maid. This was easier on her schedule, but she lacked the benefits she needed for herself and her children. She applied to work at the new Maxim Hotel. She was hired and began working as a maid and later as a uniform attendant. While working at the Maxim, she became involved with the Culinary Workers Union demanding rights for herself and other workers. Canty and others picketed casinos that were non-union and engaged in other activities to increase awareness of the union. In 1984, she was elected to the executive board of the Union and ran for president in 1990, a position she held throughout the 1990s.
Canty championed worker’s rights so that workers received a living wage and enjoyed a quality standard of life.
“An Interview with Hattie Canty,” by Claytee D. White. Las Vegas Women Oral History Project, UNLV, 2000.
Photos courtesy of Canty Family.
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