Powerful Nevada union warns against Sanders health plan

Powerful Nevada union warns against Sanders health plan
© Greg Nash

The powerful Culinary Union in Nevada is warning that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE’s (I-Vt.) "Medicare for All" plan would “end” their health care plan. 

The warning comes in a flyer distributed by the union and obtained by The Nevada Independent. It could pose a problem for Sanders in the state ahead of the caucuses on Feb. 22, given that the Culinary Union is a key force in elections in the state. 

The flyer describes Sanders’s health care plan by saying it would “End Culinary Healthcare.” Under his Medicare for All plan, all private health insurance would be replaced with a government-run plan. 

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The flyer also notes that Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (D-Mass.) would “replace Culinary Healthcare after 3-year transition,” given that she also proposes Medicare for All, but not right away. 

An earlier flyer from the Union, also reported by the Independent, issued a broader warning about Medicare for All.

“Presidential candidates suggesting forcing millions of hard working people to give up their healthcare creates unnecessary division between workers, and will give us four more years of Trump,” the flyer stated. 

Sanders's campaign responded by saying that Medicare for All coverage would be as good or better than what unions currency receive, and arguing that workers could focus on trying for better wages if they do not need to worry about health care.

"Bernie has been clear that under Medicare for All, we will guarantee that coverage is as comprehensive or more so than the health care benefits union workers currently receive, and union health clinics, including the Culinary's health clinic, will remain open to serve their members,"  said Sarah Michelsen, Sanders's Nevada state director.

"With health care as a human right, unions will have more leverage to negotiate better wages and benefits," Michelsen added.

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The union later issued a statement denouncing Sanders's supporters for "viciously" attacking the union.

"It’s disappointing that Senator Sanders’ supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union and working families in Nevada simply because our union has provided facts on what certain healthcare proposals might do to take away the system of care we have built over 8 decades," the statement said.

"We have always stood up for what we believe in and will continue to do so. The Culinary Union has faced some of the toughest companies who wanted to break our union, and even the President of the United States Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE – and won," the statement added.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, a more moderate rival to Sanders, sought to appeal to unions on health care on Wednesday. 

He proposes an optional government-run health plan that would allow unions and others to keep their private health insurance if they want it. 

“There are 14 million union workers in America who have fought hard for strong, employer-provided health benefits,” Buttigieg tweeted. “Medicare for All Who Want It protects their plans and union members' freedom to choose the coverage that's best for them.”

Updated at 5:34 p.m.