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VP Harris congratulates Culinary on contracts, touts importance of organized labor

Updated January 4, 2024 - 7:36 pm

Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated the Culinary Local 226 on its collective bargaining and touted the importance of organized labor.

“The strength of our nation depends on the strength of working people,” she said during a visit Wednesday to the union’s headquarters. She credited union members with the reason why workers have weekends and paid leave, as well as retirement benefits. “It is union members who have always fought and continue to fight for the rights and the dignity of working people.”

Harris was joined by Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and Nevada’s Democratic congressional delegation, who highlighted the Biden-Harris administration’s economic policies and the administration’s support of workers rights to collectively bargain.

The Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 represent 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno and help keep the Silver State’s casinos running.

The union, majority female and Latino, is also a political powerhouse that mobilizes its members to vote. It historically delivered Democratic victories in the battleground state through door knocking and get-out-the-vote drives. U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., who had led the Culinary Training Academy, credited the union Wednesday with electing him to Congress.

In November the Culinary union reached deals with the three largest employers on the Strip, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts. According to the union, the deals led to a historic increase in wages and workplace safety improvements.

Harris said the union’s contracts — which included a $3 per hour raise in the first year for full-time, non-tipped employees — set a new standard for workers across the country.

“They know the story of what happened here,” Harris said. “What they now know is possible, is reasonable, is right and is achievable.”

Horsford and Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen congratulated the union on reaching the deals and touted their support.

“We know the benefits of organized labor, and a good strong union contract,” Cortez Masto said.

Democrats also looked ahead to the November 2024 election, comparing Biden’s policies with former President Donald Trump’s record. Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno criticized Trump for “rolling back the power of labor” and undermining workers.

The Nevada Republican Party did not return requests for comment.

Wednesday’s visit marked the vice president’s ninth trip to the Silver State since being sworn in. During a 2022 visit to Las Vegas, Harris, who serves as chair of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, attended the United Steelworkers’ annual convention at the MGM Grand and met with Culinary members.

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