Culinary Local 226, a labor union representing 60,000 hospitality workers in Nevada, said in a statement Wednesday that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “viciously attacked” the union over a flyer circulated to members by union leadership that claimed Sanders sought to “end” its health care plans.
“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 health care proposals might do to take away the system of care we have built over eight decades,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the union.
The flyer appears not to reference a literal attack, but calls to the union were not immediately returned.
In her statement, Argüello-Kline said the mostly female, mostly Latino union “welcomed Sanders into our union for a town hall with Culinary union members” and “hosted tours of the Culinary Health Center and the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas … to show what we have fought for and won.”
STATEMENT by Geoconda Argüello-Kline: It’s disappointing Senator Sanders’ supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union & working families in NV simply because we provided facts on proposals that might takeaway what we have built over 8 decades. ➡️https://t.co/zUqTizBFSF pic.twitter.com/sWnRZ0r2vR
— The Culinary Union (@Culinary226) February 12, 2020
The flyer was the second document circulated by union leadership to target Sanders on health care in the past week. It claimed Sanders would “end Culinary health care” and “require” the implementation of a “Medicare for All” plan.
According to the flyer, former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., businessman Tom Steyer and other candidates would “protect Culinary health care.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would “replace Culinary health care after a three-year transition or at end of collective bargaining agreements.”
The Sanders campaign defended his stance on the issue.
“Bernie has stood with workers his entire career, fighting on picket lines against pension cuts and corporate greed,” Sarah Michelsen, the campaign’s Nevada state director, said in response to the flyer. “Medicare for All will be no different. The program is crafted with the working class and particularly union members in mind.”
Sanders “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. With health care as a human right, unions will have more leverage to negotiate better wages and benefits,” Michelsen said.
The union and its parent, UNITE HERE, hosted a series of town hall meetings with presidential candidates over the last six months.
UNITE HERE has opted not to make an endorsement, but the Culinary union is still deciding whether to back a candidate.
Its sister union in Arizona and Southern California, UNITE HERE Local 11, endorsed Sanders and Warren, who also favors a Medicare for All program.