Candidates Hope to Hit the Jackpot With Las Vegas Labor

LAS VEGAS – There is more than one heavyweight fight being waged in Las Vegas this week as the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination squared off during a lively debate on Wednesday night at the Paris Hotel & Casino. But prior to the candidates taking swings at each other onstage, the presidential hopefuls made a point to visit hundreds of union members that were practice picketing outside the Palms Resort and Casino.


Members from Teamsters Local 986, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, the Bartenders Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501 staged a practice picket line outside the casino to protest the continued refusal of the Station Casinos-operated property to negotiate contracts with the unions.

“Las Vegas is a union town, and the Democratic presidential candidates understand the importance of having labor’s support,” said Chris Griswold, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 986. “Having the majority of the candidates turn out to participate in the picket with us the day of the debate showed they can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

Sens. Warren and Klobuchar, Vice President Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer all marched with picketers during the action. The candidates spoke briefly to the union members and press, all promoting their pro-labor platforms and making their case to potential participants in the caucus on Saturday.

“I thought that the candidates that marched with us were doing their part to show their support. It felt great – which as a someone who votes Democrat is important to me,” said Damian Serrano, a Teamsters Local 986 member and Palms Valet that has worked at the casino for 10 years. “I have noticed an increased focus on union members by the Democratic candidates this time around and they are at least showing now that they will stand by us in our fight.”

Las Vegas Teamsters Hit The Ground to GOTV

While the candidates were doing their best to convince union members to support their campaign, Teamster organizers and political coordinators have been pounding the pavement across Las Vegas to encourage members to caucus on Saturday.

Early morning and late night visits to Teamster worksites have enabled representatives of Locals 631 and 986 to speak with members about the importance of the caucus.

“We have been hitting worksites across the city for the last few weeks to get our members out for the caucus,” sad Francisco Miranda, Organizer and Political Coordinator for Teamsters Local 631. “We’ve spoken to hundreds of Teamsters, encouraging them to participate in the process. It doesn’t matter who they support, only that they exercise their right to caucus.”

The Nevada caucus is being closely watched as candidates continue to jockey for position, hoping to maintain or move up in the national polls while trying to gain momentum heading into the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29. The results from the caucus on Saturday could determine the final fate of some of the candidates who have struggled to resonate with voters heading into Nevada.

Jose A. Sosa, a Teamsters Local 631 member and steward at Rinker Materials in Las Vegas, has been doing his part to spread the word and help educate his fellow workers about the caucus and the candidates.

“We encourage the guys to get out and vote, give them fliers with information about the website where they can get even more details about the issues and the candidates,” Sosa said.

Sosa, who immigrated to the United States in 2003 from Mexico, will become an American citizen by the end of February. And while won’t be able to caucus this time around, he will be able to vote in the election in November.

“I am really excited about the election, and nervous at the same time,” Sosa said. “The emotion I am feeling about having a voice in choosing our next president is hard to describe. I just want our next president to do their best to help union members and the middle class.”