Nevada union warns members of Sanders, Warren health plans

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the Politics & Eggs at New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Nevada's most influential union is sending a subtle message to its members discouraging support for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over their health care stances even though the union has not yet decided if it will endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential race.

The casino workers’ Culinary Union, a 60,000-member group made up of housekeepers, porters, bartenders and more who work in Las Vegas' famed casinos, began distributing leaflets in employee dining rooms this week that push back against “Medicare For All,” the plan from Sanders and Warren to move to a government-run health insurance system.

The leaflet said "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."

Health care is one of the biggest issues for the union, whose members have fought and negotiated for robust plans.

With voting in Nevada's presidential caucuses scheduled to start in just over a week, the union's message to stand firm against the health care plans could signify that union leaders worry their members are considering voting for those who would unravel the union's crowning achievement.

The union's national affiliate, Unite Here, is staying neutral in the contest, but five of Unite Here's affiliate unions based in California announced Friday they were backing Sanders. Another affiliate, Unite Here Local 11 out of Southern California, announced in January it was backing both Sanders and Warren.

The Culinary Union's leaflet does not name Warren or Sanders or cite Medicare for All, but it reflects some of the arguments both candidates have made.

The leaflet says some politicians promise “you will get more money for wages from the company if you give up Culinary Health Insurance,” but those politicians “have never sat at our bargaining table or been on a 24/7 6 years, 4 months and 10 days strike line,” a reference to an action taken by Culinary and other unions in 1991 against the Frontier Hotel and Casino that became one of the longest labor strikes in U.S. history.