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Culinary Union to host Biden, Warren, Sanders in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s powerful casino workers’ Culinary Union will hold a series of town halls next week with Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, the group said Tuesday.

The town halls in Las Vegas on Dec. 9-11 are designed to give the White House hopefuls a chance to pitch themselves to the bartenders, housekeepers and other workers in the city’s famed casinos.

Their Culinary Workers Union Local 226 is considered one of the most influential endorsements in Nevada, the third state to weigh in on the Democratic presidential race.

The union’s secretary-treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline said the group has not yet decided if it will endorse anyone in the primary but is listening to candidates and telling them what workers want.

The union’s 60,000 members are mostly women and immigrants and cite health care, immigration reform and workers’ issues among their top priorities.

Health care, a hot topic of debate in the Democratic primary, is expected to be a main focus of the town halls. Many of the union’s members and leaders have said they have concerns about “Medicare for All” plans backed by Sanders and Warren that eliminate private insurance.

Culinary’s workers have fought and bargained hard over the years for comprehensive health plans that boast no monthly premiums and no deductibles, and members don’t want to give up that coverage.

The union’s leaders have had private meetings with most of the presidential candidates, but their town hall forums with the members offer 2020 contenders a platform to speak to the group’s rank-and-file.

Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the race Tuesday, was the first candidate to get a town hall with the union’s members last month, and the events with Warren, Sanders and Biden will be the last of their kind.

The union says only top Democratic candidates have received an invite. Several other candidates were invited to participate but unable to make the scheduling work. The union declined to name the others.

Warren’s town hall is scheduled for the evening of Dec. 9, followed by Sanders the next morning and Biden midmorning on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

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