Democratic Candidates Likely to Picket at Palms Before Nevada Caucus

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Democratic presidential candidates are expected to take part in a picket line at the Palms casino on Wednesday — in a show of support as Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union (CWU) members struggle to get their first contract with Station Casinos.

Culinary Workers Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline announced on Thursday the CWU will not endorse a presidential candidate before the Nevada caucuses. (Image: Ed Komenda/Reno Gazette Journal)

The picket comes shortly before the hotly contested Feb. 22 Nevada Democratic caucuses. The politically influential CWU recently chose not to endorse a specific Democratic candidate for president, but officials say they want someone who will defeat incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Station Casinos is co-owned by brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who are financial supporters of Trump’s campaign and other Republican causes.

“Several” of the Democratic candidates “already confirmed” they will take part in the protest which is expected to attract hundreds of workers and their supporters, according to a union statement released on Friday. Casino.org reached out to Station Casinos for a comment about the planned picket. No statement was immediately available from the company.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden are among the candidates who vocally supported CWU efforts last year. In recent days, a dispute broke out between the CWU and supporters of Sanders’ campaign after a CWU flyer surfaced in Las Vegas. It warned members their current health plan could be replaced with a government-run, Medicare-for-all insurance system which is a cornerstone of the Sanders’ campaign.

Sanders Leads Before Nevada Caucus

In a Las Vegas Review-Journal telephone poll released on Thursday, Sanders was the frontrunner in Nevada’s Democratic contest with 25 percent support, followed by Biden with 18 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts coming in at 13 percent.

Further down were entrepreneur Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Trump is scheduled to visit Nevada starting on Tuesday evening. So far, while in the region, he is likely to take part in a fundraiser in Rancho Mirage, California and in a campaign rally in Phoenix.

CWU Political, Recognition Efforts

Approximately 900 Palms’ employees are represented by CWU Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165 after hundreds of Palms’ workers voted in 2018 to unionize. The CWU says Palms workers have voted in three elections to join the culinary and bartender’s union, as well as Teamsters Local 986 and Operating Engineers Local 501.

CWU members include cooks, kitchen workers, food servers, bartenders, cocktail servers and housekeepers. Their priorities include job security, health insurance, retirement benefits, and a secure grievance process. Union leadership also backs immigration reform.

The CWU has some 60,000 members in Nevada making it the largest union in the state, the union said. The union’s membership is 54 percent Latino, which also makes it an influential force especially among Nevada’s Hispanic voters. Some 14 percent of Nevada residents are members of a worker’s union, which is considered among the highest level of any of the states holding primaries or caucuses early in the election cycle, The Hill reported.

Beyond the Palms, workers at six Station Casinos properties voted to join the CWU over the past three years, the union said. These include: Boulder Station, Palace Station, Green Valley Ranch, Sunset Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson.

In December, workers at Red Rock Casino voted not to affiliate with the CWU. The union claims Red Rock Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos, interfered with the union recognition vote.

The CWU is a Nevada affiliate of the Unite Here union which represents some 300,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service sectors in North America.

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