Culinary Union Plans Major Nevada Canvassing Effort Ahead of November Elections

Posted on: June 19, 2022, 09:45h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2022, 04:04h.

The Culinary Union, the largest labor organization in Nevada, touted its political strength Friday. It noted that it led “its largest primary political program” ever for the primary election held this past week, and it plans even more campaigning in preparations for the November general election.

Culinary Union
A member of the Culinary Union Local 226 knocks on a door as part of the union’s get-out-the-vote canvassing effort ahead of last Tuesday’s Nevada primary. The union knocked on 24,000 doors before the primary and plans to substantially increase efforts ahead of the November midterm elections. (Image: Culinary Union/Twitter)

In the weeks leading up to the primary, more than 120 Culinary Union Local 226 members worked as a canvassing team that worked six days a week and hit 24,000 homes and apartments. For the primary, the campaigning was relatively easy, as most of its top-line endorsements cruised to easy victories. That included Democratic incumbents Gov. Steve Sisolak and US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

But the work will be more challenging in the weeks ahead. Many political pundits believe the November midterms will lead to drastic changes in Washington, and perhaps even in Carson City. If Republicans seize control of Congress, the Nevada governor’s mansion, and/or the state legislature, it could have a dramatic impact on the Culinary Union and the 60,000 Nevada casino and hospitality workers represented by the union.

And with a little more than four months before the election, the odds aren’t favoring some key union-backed candidates.

Election Precedes Major Contract Negotiation

In its statement Friday, Culinary Union leaders noted that the group’s canvassing efforts have increased in recent years. The union took credit for President Biden winning the state in the 2020 presidential election and earning six key Electoral College votes, citing that 500 canvassers visited 650,000 households. That included outreach to half of the state’s Latinx and Black voters.

The Culinary Union has consistently run the largest and strongest political program in Nevada and will run an even larger program in the 2022 political cycle,” the union said in a statement. “Each cycle, the Culinary Union has surpassed previous political efforts.”

The union features significant minority and female representation. Women comprise 55% of the membership, and from an ethnic perspective, 54% are Latinx.

Over the past 21 years, the union points out that it has helped more than 18,000 state residents become naturalized citizens, and thus eligible to vote. Nevada has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in the last four presidential elections, and in the last presidential races, the margin in both has been less than 2.5 percentage points.

The political activity comes as union leaders also prepare for what’s expected to be intense negotiations for collective bargaining agreements set to expire in less than a year. The union’s “citywide contract” with Las Vegas operators expires on June 1, 2023.

That’s why Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said it’s important to get or keep labor-backed candidates in office.

“Next year, the Culinary Union will face the biggest contract fight we’ve ever had, and we have a plan to win for workers, be unified, and continue to build worker power,” said Pappageorge, who took over the union’s top leadership post after Geoconda Argüello-Kline retired in February. “Daily housekeeping, safer working conditions and workloads, a fair IRS TIP Allocation, reigning in inflation and high prices, and ensuring that working people can provide for their families and buy their first homes are all possible when we have candidates in office who will advocate for issues that are important to working families.”

Cortes Masto, Sisolak Currently Underdogs

While there are still 143 days to go before the November presidential election, early trading at PredictIt shows bad news for Sisolak and Cortes Masto. That would seem to indicate the union has to knock on a lot of doors to get their voters to the polls.

As of Sunday morning, trading on which party wins the Nevada US Senate race shows Republican “Yes” shares going for 64 cents, roughly the equivalent of -178 odds, since each winning share would earn $1. Meanwhile, Democratic “Yes” votes are available for 38 cents, roughly the equivalent of +163 odds.

Cortes Masto faces former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt in November. A Laxalt win could help the Republicans retake the majority in the US Senate.

In the generic Nevada gubernatorial race, Republican “Yes” shares are trading at 59 cents. Democratic “Yes” shares are at 43 cents, up from a 90-day low of 39 cents on Saturday.

Sisolak faces Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in November.