In Nevada, hospitality workers are extremely influential due to the might of Las Vegas’ Culinary Union 226. As Midterm Elections loomed near, Carlos Padilla – a pastry chef – left their headquarters energized and armed with campaign materials meant to change the course of the nation’s future. With his shoulder bag bulging with literature, he marched off towards his pickup truck ready for action.
Unite Here Union and its mission
The seminar Mr. Padilla had just attended seemed like an exhilarating combination of business and politics, with loud chants (“2-2-6!” “We vote, we win!”) and politicians passionately asking for the support of 400 waiters, cooks, bussers and housekeepers. Just like him, they would spend the remainder of their day knocking on people’s doors in this city that has always been a major electoral swing state – not only here but also around the country!
From presidential candidate visits to the union hall, it’s obvious that hospitality workers have established a rare political clout
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are just three of the many politicians who took time out of their campaigns to attend organized labor events in this area. This strength is an exceptional trait of casino hotel check here and online casino workers, unlike any other sector.
How their efforts are making a difference in this election cycle
In Las Vegas and Reno, 60,000 people work in restaurants, bars, casinos and hotels to help the economy. Union members can get good pay ($26/hour) with yearly increases plus health insurance packages and free training to grow their career. They can also get help buying their first home!
With 29 years of loyal service as a union member, Mr. Padilla proudly participates in the hundreds taking advantage of his organization’s paid leave to campaign for endorsed candidates.
“Whenever I’m asked to lend support,” he said, “I do my best.”
People call the local organization ‘Culinary’ or just ‘226’. It hasn’t always been successful in politics. But it has a lot of different members, and experts think they can influence who will have power. 55% of its members are female and 45% foreign-born; on average they are 44 years old and Latina/Latino.
Why they are particularly motivated this time around
The union has a group of people working in hospitality who have already talked to 750,000 people. Union leaders think that their work can help the Democratic party win the election. They are putting more focus on Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s race with Republican Adam Laxalt because if she wins, then the Democrats will control the Senate.
Mr. Laxalt was asked what he would do to stop the union from influencing people’s votes. He did not answer that question but instead said that Democrats cause prices to go up and gas to be more expensive. He also said he will fight for lower taxes and work hard so people don’t lose their jobs because of government rules.
Usually, the union supports Democrats
But one time, they chose to support a Republican named Brian Sandoval for governor in 2014. He supported things like immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act that were important to the union.
Strategies used by the union to get out the vote
The Republican Party said no to two bills that would help hospitality workers during the pandemic. The union was started in 1935 and helped people from other states get jobs in Nevada. As gambling grew, so did the union’s membership.
This caused some problems between them. Notably, a strike that began during 1991 at Frontier casino-hotel lasted more than half a decade!
Jim Manley, a political expert who worked with Senator Harry Reid, said that unions had a big impact in 2008. They helped President Obama win Nevada even though his opponent, John McCain was from Arizona. Obama won by 12%.
In Nevada, the hotel business is the largest employer. It has a lot of power in the state. Jackie Rosen, one of two senators from Nevada, used to work at Caesar’s Palace and was a member of the union, and now many employees play litter and want the opportunity to win big money.
Next week is an election in Nevada.
It is the first one since Harry Reid died last year. Democrats want to win, but it’s usually hard for them to do that. They think that if unions work together and help get people out to vote in Clark County (where Las Vegas is), they might have a better chance of winning. This idea comes from Harry Reid – he made sure unions worked together before he passed away.
Examples of successful voter outreach initiatives from Unite Here
Mr. Padilla wrote “It’s that simple” in a text message because he was sure the union team had enough people and experience to do a good job. He started to like unions after going to a rally with his brother-in-law, an iron worker. When he got there, he heard people from the Culinary Union talking about how workers should be treated fairly. That moment forever changed his career path from pastry chef at Treasure Island Casino and Hotel since moving from Flagstaff Arizona nearly 30 years ago!
Over the past two years, Mr. Padilla has dedicated much of his time to canvassing rather than baking bread and pastries. When he was let go from his job due to pandemic related shutdowns in 2020, a union compensated him for engaging in door-to-door campaigning activities.
Potential implications for future elections if these workers can swing the Senate race
To help Raphael Warnock clinch his tight runoff election in Georgia, thus giving the Democrats a one-vote Senate majority, Mr. Padilla temporarily relocated to this state and joined other hospitality employees.
Union representatives stated that if another runoff occurs, canvassers will most likely be sent back to Georgia.
Mr. Padilla said how thankful he was for those chosen. He said that the people who were selected helped to make sure everyone had health insurance and unemployment benefits during Covid times. So it’s only right that we help them out when they need it.
In October, Alex Padilla was talking to people in a neighborhood with different kinds of incomes. It was in the area where Steven Horsford used to work- he ran the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas and wanted more power for hospitality workers through unions.
When Deborah Gallacher stated she wasn’t sure if she would vote this year but had voted for Mr. Horsford every election cycle before, Mr. Padilla replied encouragingly: “It’s time again.”
His friendly reminder was an inspiration to those who were still hesitating about voting and reminded them it is their civic duty
Mr. X was joined by Rocio Leonardo, a 30-year old room cleaner from Aria Resort & Casino. Even though she was born in Guatemala and moved to Las Vegas as a young child, that did not stop her from being involved in the 2020 campaign despite her lack of citizenship and inability to vote. She expressed: “I am doing this so I can give something positive to my children”
When Ms. Leonardo went to a home, there were flags from the Marine Corps and banners for prisoners of war on the garage door. Two dogs barked loudly when Ms. Leo knocked at the door. But when the lady opened it after she finished her phone call quickly, she was happy to see that Ms. Leonardo was wearing a t-shirt with a union symbol on it!
“I’m a Culinary supporter as well,” the woman declared. “You can count on my vote!”
With those words, Ms. Leonardo quickly logged this voter in her database so she could make sure to come back later and confirm that their voice had been heard at the ballot box.
Her diligent efforts have already started to pay off; it’s clear persistence is key when striving for results!
Involved and support these efforts
Ted Pappageorge, a union leader, said that they fight for their members in elections. This election is very important because the contract with employers will end soon and there may be a lot of arguing. He thinks that people might even go on strike if an agreement cannot be made.
The union is asking local politicians to help them create a plan to reduce the cost of housing, which is getting more and more expensive
Last year, Ms. Leonardo and her family were hit with an outrageous rent increase from $900 per month to $1,400! She was shocked when she first saw it; however as Mr. Padilla— who has three children — knows all too well, landlords are able to raise rents according to their will since Nevada does not have any laws limiting them.
Pausing for a short respite during his campaigning journey, he shook his head in disbelief. “I’m fully committed to this election race because of that,” he declared resolutely. “There’s never an end to the skirmishes we face.”