Nevada's Culinary Workers Union won't endorse before caucuses

Nevada's Culinary Workers Union won't endorse before caucuses
© Greg Nash

Nevada’s powerful Culinary Workers Union will not endorse a candidate in the presidential primary ahead of the state's Feb. 22 caucuses, saying it will instead focus on turning out Democrats to vote President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE out of office in 2020.

The decision to stay neutral in the crowded Democratic primary comes after the union recently distributed literature to its members warning that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting MORE’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All” plan would “end culinary health care” by replacing private plans with government-run insurance.

Sanders's online supporters aggressively went after the union for bashing his health care plan, angering its leaders.

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But speaking at a press conference on Thursday, union secretary-treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said the group would focus on promoting its goals of expanding access to health care for its workers and promoting immigration reform, rather than playing in presidential politics.

“We will endorse our goals,” Argüello-Kline said. “We’re not going to endorse a political candidate. We respect every single political candidate right now.”

That could be a break for Sanders, whose supporters have been criticized for attacking the union in response to the flyers that were distributed warning about his Medicare for all plan.

The Culinary Union is a major political force in Nevada politics.

Sanders is the current favorite to win the caucuses and he has sought to smooth things over with the Culinary Union.

The union is presently embroiled in a dispute with UHS, which runs hospitals in the state, and Sanders went on Twitter to announce that he stands with the workers. 

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“Making $780 million in profit, [UHS] is one of the largest, most profitable hospital corporations in the country. They must put aside their greed, come to the table and negotiate a fair contract,” Sanders tweeted.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Build Back Better items on chopping block Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock MORE, who finished just behind Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, sought to capitalize on the dust-up between Sanders’s supporters and the Culinary union.

“I stand with [Culinary 226] and their fight for better wages, world class health care, and the American dream for working and immigrant families. No one should ever attack them for fighting and delivering for their members,” he said.

About 14 percent of Nevadans belong to a union, the largest proportion of any of the early-voting states.