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Biden might join Las Vegas hotel workers on picket line, union chief says

Published 02/04/2024, 08:08 PM
Updated 02/05/2024, 12:40 PM
© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One as he departs from Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Jarrett Renshaw and Trevor Hunnicutt

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) -President Joe Biden might join Las Vegas hotel employees on a picket line if they go on strike Monday, a move that would bind him closely with another group of workers in a 2024 election battleground state, the union's chief told Reuters.

Workers with the politically influential Nevada Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino have until early Monday to reach an agreement.

Failure to do so could mean the workers start a strike.

Biden has committed to joining striking workers if they walk out, Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer and head of the union, told Reuters in an interview. Biden will be in Las Vegas on Monday, capping two days of political events.

Asked whether Biden will join workers on Monday if they strike, Pappageorge said "there will be opportunities" for Biden to rally with workers, and that Biden was invited to join the picket line.

Company and union negotiators were headed back to the table Sunday evening ahead of a Monday morning deadline for a deal.

The Culinary Union has already reached more than 30 agreements that cover 50,000 workers with other Vegas hotel and casino properties.

Biden's campaign declined to comment. The campaign and the White House have not yet provided any schedule for Biden on Monday.

If Biden joins the picket line, it would be his second such step in recent months after he joined striking autoworkers in Michigan last September. That was the first visit by a U.S. president to striking workers in recent memory and came ahead of an endorsement by the United Auto Workers last month.

Just last week, Trump met with the leadership and some members of the 1.3-million member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of America's biggest unions, in a bid for the support of labor groups.

The arid Western state of Nevada, where Biden is expected to easily win a Democratic Party primary on Tuesday, is one of seven identified by Biden's campaign as a closely contested battleground in November's general election. Voter support in such states could swing to either party.

In 2020, Biden narrowly beat his Republican rival Donald Trump in Nevada by 33,596 votes, or less than 3%, and opinion polls show a rematch between the two men this year, which seems likely, would be close.

About 30% of Nevada's population is self-described as Latino or Hispanic on the U.S. Census, and Republicans are making some inroads with these voters nationwide.

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden waves before boarding Air Force One as he departs from Los Angeles, California, U.S. February 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Biden calls himself the most pro-union president in history and has taken many pro-labor actions. The AFL-CIO, an umbrella group for worker groups including the Culinary Union, endorsed Biden last year.

The Downtown Grand, which is owned by the investment company CIM Group and operated by Fifth Street Gaming, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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