Bernie Sanders campaign staffers are being accused by the Culinary Workers union of wearing union pins in order to gain access to workers' dining rooms in Las Vegas, Nevada. A union secretary-treasurer released a statement on 28 January about the incident, which Sanders's campaign denies.
"We can confirm multiple reports of Bernie Sanders's campaign staffers attempting and gaining access to employee dining rooms at Las Vegas Strip properties where over 57,000 members that we represent work," said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Culinary Workers Union Local 226 secretary-treasurer, according to Politico.
"We are disappointed and offended," Arguello-Kline continued. "It's completely inappropriate for any campaign to attempt to mislead Culinary Union members, especially at their place of work." Reports of campaign staffers wearing the Culinary Workers union pins to gain access to at least four hotels were first covered by local reporter Jon Ralston.
"The Culinary Union button that hundreds of thousands of union members have proudly worn to work every day represents 80 years of struggle and fighting for justice," Arguello-Kline said. "We strongly condemn anyone falsifying their affiliation with the Culinary Union in order to gain access to properties and we will cooperate with casinos and hotels so that this matter is fully resolved."
Sanders's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said that his understanding was that none of the staffers "ever misrepresented who they were." According to CNN, Weaver suggested that if the reports were true: "That kind of conduct would not be condoned."
Weaver added: "Obviously there was some confusion. We would not want anyone making a misrepresentation of who they are. To the extent that happened, I am unhappy about that." The campaign manager confirmed that the staffers were wearing the union button "in solidarity with the people but they were also wearing Bernie paraphernalia."
Sanders's state communications director, Emilia Pablo, said she was surprised the union reacted the way it did. "It is surprising because we have been building a positive relationship with them from the moment we go to the ground," she said. "We have always thought we have had a positive relationship with them and for them to come out so strongly against us and to go to the press first, that surprises me."
Despite holding events with all three Democratic presidential candidates, the Culinary Workers Union has not endorsed anyone. In 2008, the union endorsed Barack Obama, while Hillary Clinton's campaign was accused of attempting to infiltrate various casinos and resorts in Las Vegas.