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Nevada Culinary Union Warns Members of Sanders’s Plan to ‘End’ Member Healthcare

Members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 join hands at the announcement of the union’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president in Las Vegas, Nevada .January 9, 2008. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Nevada’s powerful Culinary Union circulated a flyer to its 60,000 members on Tuesday warning them that Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan would “end Culinary Healthcare.”

The union, which has yet to endorse a candidate ahead of next week’s state primary caucus, circulated the flyer in both English and Spanish and by text and email to its members to summarize the positions of Democratic candidates in comparison to Donald Trump.

Health care is considered an important issue for the union, after years of hard-fought negotiations. Last week, the union began circulating leaflets advocating against Medicare for All, arguing that “presidential candidates suggesting forcing millions of hard working people to give up their healthcare creates unnecessary division between workers, and will give us four more years of Trump.”

“We will not hand over our healthcare for promises,” the leaflet said. The union uses a trust fund to provide health care — widely considered some of the best coverage in Nevada — to 130,000 workers and their families, and operates a 60,000-square-foot health clinic for its members that opened in 2017.

Tuesday’s memo draws a sharp distinction between Warren and Sanders, after both candidates visited the union for a town hall in December. While both candidates support Medicare for All, the blurb describing Sanders is blunt — the Vermont Senator would “end Culinary Healthcare,” and “require ‘Medicare For All.’” Warren’s blurb, however, makes no mention of a requirement, and says that the program will supplant the union’s healthcare only “after 3-year transition or at end of collective bargaining agreements.”

Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser, told The Intercept that the campaign had been pushing its platform to culinary workers through grassroot efforts.

“We’ve been directly calling them at their homes, talking to them at their work sites, and sending them mail, we’ve sent hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail to culinary workers who are Latino in Nevada talking about where Bernie Sanders stands,” Rocha said. “And we have huge support among the culinary rank-and-file.”

Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, overcoming a challenge from former South Bend. Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg to capture the victory.

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