Political News

Culinary Union says it has been 'viciously attacked' over flier criticizing 'Medicare for All'

Posted February 12, 2020 7:31 p.m. EST

— The influential Culinary Union said on Wednesday it has been "viciously attacked" after it distributed a flier criticizing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan.

Culinary Union spokeswoman Bethany Khan told CNN the organization has taken hits all day Wednesday on Twitter for the "Medicare for All" position, with some staffers receiving direct messages. Khan also said some critics have called the union's phone lines and left messages attacking them for opposing the health care plan.

The group blamed the criticism on Sanders supporters, though it was not immediately clear whether the people lobbing the attacks all backed the Vermont senator.

"It's disappointing that Senator Sanders' supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union and working families in Nevada simply because our union has provided facts on what certain healthcare proposals might do to take away the system of care we have built over 8 decades," said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary and treasurer of Culinary Workers Union Local 226, in a statement on Wednesday.

The flier, obtained by CNN on Tuesday, outlines where the leading 2020 Democratic candidates stand on health care, immigration and "Good Jobs." It singles out Sanders as the candidate who will end the union's health care among the top six Democratic candidates, pointing to his "Medicare for All" plan.

Earlier in the day, the Sanders campaign responded with a statement from its Nevada state director regarding the flier.

"Bernie has stood with workers his entire career, fighting on picket lines against pension cuts and corporate greed. Medicare for All will be no different; the program is crafted with the working class and particularly union members in mind," said Sarah Michelsen, Bernie 2020 Nevada State Director. "Bernie has been clear that under Medicare for All, we will guarantee that coverage is as comprehensive or more so than the health care benefits union workers currently receive, and union health clinics, including the Culinary's health clinic, will remain open to serve their members. With health care as a human right, unions will have more leverage to negotiate better wages and benefits."

The release of the flier by the union, which is a force in Nevada politics, comes just a week and a half away from the Nevada caucuses. The organization says it represents 60,000 hotel and casino workers in Nevada and provides health insurance coverage for more than 130,000 people. It also says it is the largest immigrant organization with a membership representing 178 countries and speaking over 40 different languages. Its organizing abilities have helped deliver the state for Democrats for years.

The union has not endorsed a candidate in the 2020 election.

The flier also said that 2020 Democratic candidates former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and businessman Tom Steyer are expected to "Protect Culinary Healthcare" and are proponents of lowering drug prices.

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