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The national Culinary Workers Union is no stranger to political elections and this year in the Nevada primary elections, the local union chapter is putting its support behind Democrats who it claims have “an opportunity to win” and an even “larger effort” into the midterm elections.
Speaking to Fox News Digital this week, Ted Pappageorge, the former president and current secretary-treasurer for Culinary Union Local 226, expressed optimism going into the primary elections and the impact the midterm elections will have on the country this fall.
Political experts see Nevada as a key battleground state as Republicans aim to retake majorities in the House and Senate. With President Biden’s low approval ratings and an economy mired in inflation, Republicans see an opportunity to flip Nevada red.
Outlining its election agenda as the largest union in Nevada, Pappageorge said the group represented more than 60,000 workers, mostly on the Las Vegas strip, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We run large political operations,” Pappageorge said. “In 2020, for example, we knocked on 650,000 doors and we had 350 canvassers in the field for the general election.… We’re doing the smaze thing now. We have 120 canvassers on the street for the primary election, knocking on 20,000 doors and having tens of thousands of conversations. We talk to members and their families in their neighborhoods.”
Asked about issues Americans are faced with and the conversations taking place surrounding the election, Pappageorge said most voters the canvassers speak with are concerned about the economy, the cost of living, job security, and healthcare.
“Those are all items that are on the negotiating table,” he said. “Our contracts for our 60,000 members expire next year, so our members are quite interested. We’re having a lot of conversations… inflation is the number one thing.”
Pappageorge said the union endorsed Democrats in the primary election because “nobody truly believes Republicans have a plan to rein in the oil companies.”
“What’s going on right now is worldwide price gouging from these oil companies who are making record profits,” he claimed. “The truth is something needs to be done about that.”
Pappageorge also placed great emphasis on the rising costs of rent across America and described price gouging efforts which have caused thousands of Americans to have to move out of their homes. “Something needs to be done about it right now,” he said.
“We’re saying that we don’t have to accept any of this and the problem is that Republican strategy is ‘pick me, we’ll be different,'” Pappageorge said. “The problem is when you talk to the average working family, you really have conversations, the truth is Democrats have an opportunity to win.”
Pappageorge also claimed Republicans do not have “credibility when it comes to reining in corporate landlords or reining in these massive oil companies.”
“But if Democrats don’t do that or they’re not aggressive about this issue, some of them are going to have some trouble in the polls in the fall,” he added.
Pappageorge said the union is working in the primary elections to “backup the people that had our back” after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve made sure we endorsed Gov. Sisolak, we’ve endorsed Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto… we’re gonna move the largest canvas effort that we’ve ever done,” he said. “We’re gonna put a larger effort into this midterm than we did in the presidential election two years ago. We’re not gonna get the same results… it’s a difficult midterms.”
Pappageorge said the union’s main focus in endorsing candidates is their track record and “what folks have gotten done.” He insisted that’s one reason they made the decision to support Rep. Dina Titus in her primary challenge against Amy Vilela. Pappageorge said Titus is “extremely effective and she’s a fighter” and vowed to “push her” as they would other candidates to take action against price gouging.
Pappageorge said the union’s “request to Democrats and the president is keep pushing” back against price gouging efforts and inflation.
“The Democrats in Nevada have to be pragmatic, they have to be practical, they have to have common sense about how to get things done,” he said. “We’re a third Republican, we’re a third independent, and a third Democrat. What we think is that if we lay the solutions out to folks, you know, people are going to support those people with their votes. Gov. Sisolak, Sen. Masto, Congressperson Titus — they’re the type of Democrats, moderate, who can get something done.”