So much for the clout of Nevada’s mighty Culinary Union

the daily

We’ve seen initial results from that state whose name its residents insist on mispronouncing. Bernie came in first, quite bigly, and Biden in second, so far. There are a lot of results to come in still.

So on we move to South Carolina.

But before we do move on, we should pause and reflect upon the diminished clout of labor unions in the 21st century.

I urge you, if you haven’t already, to listen to Friday’s episode of the New York Times podcast, The Daily. It was titled “The Field: An Anti-Endorsement in Nevada.

As always, it was good, and educational. It started with reporters making their way through Vegas, baby, Vegas, and asking the workers they encountered whether they belonged to a union, and if so, which one. Time and again the answer was, Culinary Union.

Then — and this is one of the things I love about these podcasts — it embarked on a history of the union. It was formed, or at least took its current form, after one of the longest strikes in U.S. history, lasting more than five years. But that paid off for the union members, who have the kind of medical benefits most of us can only dream about. Need open-heart surgery? It will cost you nothing. It has been called “the best insurance in America.”

The long-time union members remember what they went through to win that, and so they are less than enchanted with Bernie Sanders’ plans to do away their coverage in exchange for his “Medicare-for-all” proposal.

It’s fascinating. One of the Hispanic women who told the epic saga of the strike and what they went through is actually heard questioning Sanders at a campaign event.

Listening, I swing back and forth, rooting for one side, then the other. Of course I love it that the union was against Bernie, because Bernie’s gotta be stopped, right? But then I hear Bernie’s answer to the lady’s question, and I’ve gotta side with Bernie. Of course a plan that (were it to ever exist in any form remotely like what Bernie proposes) provides full coverage to everyone is more important than a plan that covers members of one union in one part of the country, however hard they fought to get it.

So, tell ’em, Bernie.

But they are not satisfied with his answer. A bird in the hand, and all that — and I can hardly blame them, given the political obstacles that stand in the way of Bernie achieving his dream.

The rest of the episode deals with the union’s rather weak way of communicating its opposition to Bernie. Rather than putting on their big-boy pants and endorsing somebody, they put out some sort of voter’s guide that indicates their displeasure with Bernie.

And the effect is less than overwhelming, as the reporters find talking to union members who have done early voting, many of whom had voted for Bernie.

So you come away thinking that Bernie’s probably going to win Nevada — which is what happened today.

I urge you to listen to the podcast. I urge you to do so daily, in fact. I gain a lot of insight into things while listening during my afternoon walks…

10 thoughts on “So much for the clout of Nevada’s mighty Culinary Union

  1. Mr. Smith

    The podcast came before the Nevada caucus. Results from there indicate that while union leadership may have shown Sanders the cold shoulder, its rank-and-file didn’t.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Right. And as I said, the podcast reported indications of that, from talking to early voters.

      Which sort of surprised me — how do you have early voting with a caucus?

      1. bud

        Yeh really. No one has bothered explaining the NV caucus system. At least that I’ve seen. I was under the impression that the whole point of a caucus was to vote in the open.

        Not sure Bernie can be stopped at this point. I’ll do my duty and vote for either Amy or Pete. But if Bernie is the choice I’ll be behind him 110%. Everyone is saying he can’t beat Trump. So far I don’t see any actual evidence of that. It’s all about feelings and intuition, But we shall see, perhaps as early as Saturday if this thing is over. I rank the final 8 this way:

        1. Amy
        2. Pete
        3. Elizabeth
        4. Bernie
        5. Tom
        6. Joe
        7. Tulsi
        8. Mike
        7. Tulsi

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Caucuses are crazy, and exclusive — only people who are sufficiently partisan to attend them openly, and have the time to put in, go to them.

          I don’t like caucuses, and I don’t like early voting. So that’s two reasons for me not to like the Nevada system…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    I generally enjoy these podcasts, but one thing they do that can be cringe-inducing — they do man-on-the-street interviews with regular voters.

    One thing that came across clearly from the interviews they did with these early voters — there was a lot of confusion in their minds.

    For instance, they interviewed this guy who said he was a Bernie supporter, and that he had voted for … someone other than Bernie.

    The reporter essentially said WTF?, in a nice way. The guy said he was voting for Bernie for president, but that this vote wasn’t about that — it was about whether he’d get to keep his medical coverage. Apparently, that’s what he had gotten out of the “educational” info the union had put out.

    The reporter gently corrected him, telling him that in fact, what he had just voted on was his preference for president.

    The guy said he didn’t want to continue the interview…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes, it was. I see they now have a transcript up:

        Jennifer Medina
        I see you’re wearing a Bernie pin. So is it correct to assume that that’s who you voted for?

        Speaker 3
        Well, no. I was voting for insurance on uh, on a couple of candidates who were going to keep our insurance stuff going.

        Jennifer Medina
        So who did you vote for?

        Speaker 3
        Uh, Joe Buyer, Amy something and the other lady.

        Jennifer Medina
        So why are you wearing a Bernie pin if you voted for somebody else?

        Speaker 3
        Because I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter.

        Jennifer Medina
        But you didn’t vote for him.

        Speaker 3
        No. But that was something totally different. But I do, I did come in with a Bernie Sanders pin.

        Jennifer Medina
        I’m sorry. Can you explain that to me, what it means to be a supporter but not vote for him?

        Speaker 3
        Well, the vote — this wasn’t, we weren’t voting for presidents on this one. We were voting for, what do you call it, for our insurance. To keep our insurance going on.

        Jennifer Medina
        You were voting for who should be the presidential nominee.

        Speaker 3
        No. That’s not what I was voting for.

        Jennifer Medina
        What were you told?

        Speaker 3
        I don’t want to do this anymore. OK, thank you.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Democracy in a nutshell:

          “Uh, Joe Buyer, Amy something and the other lady.”

          Quick, remind me what Churchill said about all the other systems being worse…

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