Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris reportedly took a swipe against Station Casinos owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta — about the small taxes the brothers probably pay while their company fails to recognize a union — during an appearance before a Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union audience Friday.
“The Fertittas, they are paying less taxes, I bet, than you are paying,” Harris claimed while speaking to the casino workers and other attendees, according to The Nevada Independent.
The Democratic candidate also noted how the company will not sit down with representatives of the Las Vegas affiliate of the national Unite Here union — after workers at several of Station’s Nevada properties approved union representation. Instead, Station filed legal appeals in response to the National Labor Relations Board ordering the casino operator to negotiate with the union.
So far, there is no resolution is sight over the collective bargaining certification dispute. The Culinary Union has been pressuring the company to negotiate. Harris has lobbied the company, too.
“I’ve called [Frank] Fertitta. I’ve weighed in on that. I’m with you on that,” Harris told the town hall, the Independent said.
I’m with you in terms of standing with the workers. What they’ve been doing at Station Casinos is wrong and I applaud your leadership,” Harris added, the newspaper reported.
Casino.org reached out to Station Casinos for a response Saturday but no statement was immediately offered.
In March, the Culinary Union threatened to picket the office of a political action committee that is supportive of President Donald Trump and that’s received generous donations from the Fertitta brothers.
The pair have donated $2 million to America First Action Inc. Super PAC, based in Arlington, Virginia, as well as money to other Republican causes. Pro-union picketing was also planned for restaurants at the Palms.
Culinary Local 226 also planned to picket several businesses, including those affiliated with Fertitta Capital. The union says it wants the ancillary businesses to put pressure on the Fertittas to negotiate with the union.
Harris’ Health Insurance Proposal Would Keep Private Plans
During the Friday appearance, Harris also praised the Culinary Union’s health insurance plan and said it would not be replaced under her Medicare for all insurance proposal, the Independent said. Her plan would allow private insurance options.
Many Culinary Workers Union and Unite Here members and leaders disagree with more far-reaching Medicare for all proposals. The plans released by other presidential candidates — Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts — would do away with private health insurance, according to the Associated Press.
During Friday’s town hall, at least one worker raised whether Station Casinos should get a tax break, the Independent said.
More Democratic Candidates to Appear Before Culinary Workers
The Culinary Union appearance by Harris is one of several town halls the union plans in Las Vegas for leading Democratic presidential candidates. She was the first.
Democratic presidential candidates have been visiting Nevada during the campaign season. Part of their interest may relate to the fact the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses are on Feb. 22, 2020, among the earliest caucuses or primaries in the nation.
So far, the 60,000-member Culinary Union Local 226 has not endorsed a candidate for the 2020 presidential race. In the past, the union has supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in their earlier presidential bids.