Charges of Union Intimidation in Nevada

Taylor Marsh interviewed a culinary union worker today who complained her union is pressuring her to vote for Obama. (Podcast here.) Pamela of Democratic Daily has a similar post up.

Las Vegas Sun columnist John Ralston said the union began its "it's the union above all else” pitch right after it endorsed Obama.

The “It’s the union above all else” pitch began Wednesday when Secretary-Treasurer D. Taylor announced the Obama endorsement. He praised all the candidates but made it clear that his members value union solidarity above all.

MyDD diarist Izaradar, who belongs to a union, says union endorsements are more problematic in caucus than primary states:

What's the big deal, you might ask? The union leadership can't force a member to honor the endorsement of Senator Obama. If a member wants to vote for John Edwards, or Senator Clinton, they're free to do so. This is a democracy, right? The secret ballot protects our identity and our choice. Well, that's a problem.

This is an open caucus. Union members will be standing in the same room with other union members. Or maybe even their shop steward. Or their foreman. Or possibly even a union official. Everyone will know which candidate you're backing. And if you're a member of Culinary Workers Local 226, and you don't caucus for Senator Obama??? That could make for a long shift on Monday.


From the San Diego Tribune:
Some analysts wonder if the caucus process will discourage some workers from voting their consciences. Unlike a secret-ballot election, caucus participants have to stand up and proclaim support for their candidate – even if it's in front of their co-workers or supervisors.

“We think in the end our members will act like a union,” said Pilar Weiss, the Culinary Workers political director. Damore speculated that union workers who attend caucuses in their neighborhood precincts would feel more comfortable voting for someone other than Obama than those who go to the at-large caucuses in the casinos.

“Those are going to be union-dominated sites, and if there is going to be intimidation to toe the union line, that's where it's going to be,” he said.

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    Obama and Hillary and Edwards (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by athyrio on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:52:05 PM EST
    it is refreshing to at least see some back and forth about the issues instead of just defending Obama at all costs which is the point of view of so many progressive web sites. I feel like my old liberal party has been hijacked. Thanks BTD for at least showing both sides. I am a Edwards and then a Hillary supporter. This is important to me because of health care issues primarily. Obamas positions are too centrist for me.

    All of their health care plans (none / 0) (#15)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:54:04 PM EST
    are flawed and give too much power to the insurance companies.  Kucinich was the only candidate with a sound plan.

    hi - (none / 0) (#20)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:02:13 PM EST
    I have enjoyed your posts -

    it does get a tad silly with the in-fighting - but I think the coutry will force real conversation about issues now . People are really getting frightened about the economy.  I keep seeingf more layoffs announced in the press.


    The economy has not even begun to collapse. (none / 0) (#23)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:03:29 PM EST
    Cheap credit and asset hyperinflation is about to slap us hard.  This will not be like anything we have seen in a long time.

    my post was for athyrio (none / 0) (#26)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:05:46 PM EST
    in case anyone was confused.

    to Judith (none / 0) (#32)
    by athyrio on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:14:11 PM EST
    Thanks for the comment and I sure hope you are right...Our country sure needs it....I get really depressed just reading all the posts from folks that defend Obama with no facts to back it up.

    I am sorry (none / 0) (#35)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:19:44 PM EST
    to read that it causes you emotional stress.

    I think if this stuff causes you harm you shoudnt read it. Just my take.


    I agree Judith (none / 0) (#40)
    by athyrio on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:29:11 PM EST
    but it is hard to stay away when I am so concerned. Hopefully after the nomination is in the bag I will be able to settle down. God only knows when that will be tho....

    well - (none / 0) (#43)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:45:05 PM EST
    then when you start feeling bad shut it off.   I heard a really terrific writer for The Nation say that she too felt concerned by waht she was reading on blogs - in general - so you are not alone.

    Judith (none / 0) (#45)
    by athyrio on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:47:42 PM EST
    Yeah that is what I shall have to do....I will be glad when this is over....

    hey (none / 0) (#47)
    by Judith on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:52:13 PM EST
    we have a chance to put a Democrat in the White House - let's take the time to make sure it is the right person.  Isnt it wonderful?  

    Take care and have a nice night - I have to go do "stuff"



    Of course (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:27:33 PM EST
    The caucus system is a disgrace.

    It should NEVER be used ever.

    And for those keeping score, I said this BEFORE IOWA!!

    I hate caucuses.

    Culinary workers (none / 0) (#37)
    by koshembos on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:21:24 PM EST
    Have no idea whether the union pressures workers to vote for Obama or not. (The union has little leverage on individuals except for particular individuals at your work place.) However, it seems to me that the union wants a place at the Obama presidential table. By helping Obama after New Hampshire, the union showed its commitment. I am not sure that the vote itself will change much.

    Caucuses are clearly anti-democratic.


    After the dishonest crap pulled by AFSCME (none / 0) (#2)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:33:19 PM EST
    during the Iowa caucuses, I'm not going to cry over this.

    secret ballot (none / 0) (#4)
    by athyrio on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:35:51 PM EST
    the secret ballot should be observed

    I just find this newfound objection (none / 0) (#6)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:39:54 PM EST
    to labor union activity and caucuses amongst Clinton supporters less than convincing.

    These talking points weren't getting out before Iowa.

    Or before the Culinary Union endorsed Obama.


    Newfound? (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:41:26 PM EST
    I find your continual view that if it is good forObama that means it is good period to be really off putting.

    Please stow that attitude here.

    It plays at daily kos, not here.


    To be blunt, it's irresponsible to use (none / 0) (#10)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:49:09 PM EST
    Taylor Marsh as a source for this kind of serious charge.

    Taylor March is a horrific source (none / 0) (#13)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:52:21 PM EST
    I found that out the hard way on my own blog when I quoted her, only to learn she was flat out...uh...not truthing.

    She spread a vicious and quite frankly (none / 0) (#16)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:55:59 PM EST
    racist lie about Obama yesterday, claiming he listened to misogynistic rap when entering his Iowa victory party.

    It was published in a (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:59:39 PM EST
    disreputable newspaper.

    We did not touch it here.


    And credit to you for that. n/t (none / 0) (#41)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:29:46 PM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:59:01 PM EST
    I think she is, erm, zealous, but she generally does not make stuff up.

    But I guess my bottom line is it would shock me if this was not happening.

    It has always happpened. I t will always happen.

    Caucuses need to be abolished.


    By quoting her I greatly undermined (none / 0) (#21)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:02:14 PM EST
    my credibility with my readers.  I was forced to retract.

    She is no better than Drudge, just working for Dems.


    What did you quote? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:04:08 PM EST
    It was regarding Obama and the Iran vote (none / 0) (#28)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:08:39 PM EST
    She claimed he had co-sponsored a similar bill in May that labeled the Revolutionary Guard as as terrorist organization.  Wow, was that ever a flat out...uh...untruth.  I looked pretty stupid.  It was the first time I had visited her sight.  And the last.

    Also, I shouldn't write anything after 3 am.  I wouldn't have made the same mistake during normal hours.


    To her credit, it was only a half-truth. (none / 0) (#29)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:11:33 PM EST
    He did co-sponsor a piece of legislation that discussed labeling the IRG a terrorist organization.

    In every single other possible respect, it was different than Kyl-Lieberman.


    Well (none / 0) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:14:53 PM EST
    There was not much more to K-L.

    I think the real defense is the other resolutions were nto trumped bits for Bush to warmonger.

    K-L's timing was th real problem imo.

    But then again, Obama di not vote on K-L so not a proud moment for him anyway.  


    Big diff between S.970 and K-L (none / 0) (#39)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:28:55 PM EST

    1.  S.970 explicitly stated that it (A) was not an authorization to use military force and (B) it was intended to be used for diplomacy; and

    2.  K-L was all about Iraq, as opposed to non-proliferation.

    I wish Obama had been there too.  Though, I have a theory that Clinton would have voted against it had Obama been there.

    Um (none / 0) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:13:25 PM EST
    he did sponsor legislation to that effect.

    No, trust me. (none / 0) (#36)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:20:04 PM EST
    He did not.  He co-sponsored an amendment to a Senate bill, along with many others.  But the Revolutionary Guard part has taken out at that point.  The bill she was referring to was a House bill. She blurred the lines and irresponsibly so.

    Trust me, I was raked over the coals by people heavily armed with the facts.  It was not defensible.  


    Well arm me (none / 0) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:26:16 PM EST
    Because my understanding is quite different.

    Not a chance (none / 0) (#49)
    by RalphB on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:11:54 PM EST
    I'd trust you over Taylor Marsh or BTD.  I've noticed your impartiality..

    How not surprising (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:39:37 PM EST
    It is all about how it effects Obama with you.

    Why do you bring it here?

    I criticized the Iowa caucuses BEFORE just because of stuff like this.


    You, yes. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:40:40 PM EST
    Taylor Marsh?  Not even in the same zip code as you, in terms of honesty and fairness.

    This is not Taylor Marsh's blog (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:42:47 PM EST
    Let's play it as straight as possible here.

    I fully understand the candidate wars. Heck, I practically invented them in 2003.

    Here we try to be as honest and fair as possible.


    The source here is Taylor Marsh. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:51:29 PM EST
    Here's the 'scandal' that she was talking about:

    Oh noes!!

    After the Sun worked the story for two hours, this much is clear: What exactly happened this afternoon at Paris Las Vegas depends on whom you talk to. To hear Clinton's campaign and her supporters tell it, the union intimidated a member into caucusing for Obama, demanding that she sign a pledge card -- or face exile from the caucus.

    To hear the alleged victim tell it, it was much more of a misunderstanding.

    Perhaps (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:57:30 PM EST
    Let me put it this way, the CWU would be the first union in history NOT to pressure its members, and it would have happened no matter WHO they endorsed.

    I am POSITIVE that you csan find 'AFSCME stories in Iowa  that show the same.

    It is the SYSTEM that stinks and is undemocratic.

    I have ALWAYS hated caucuses always.

    I hate Iowa. I hate this Nevada caucus.

    The secret ballot is SACRED.


    Sacred? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:03:18 PM EST
    How about union organizing elections?

    You mean certification elections? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:05:23 PM EST
    My understanding is those are done by secret ballot.

    IF you mean union officials elections, they SHOULD be secret ballot. It is a travesty when they are not.


    I have no qualms with the position (none / 0) (#27)
    by Geekesque on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:06:52 PM EST
    you're taking.

    But, I've seen it too often where one blogger posts something like Marsh's 'story', and then 2-3 other bloggers who share that blogger's opinion/bias start circulating the story and cross-linking to each other.

    Pretty soon, there's 'buzz' about all kinds of awful things going on instead of one anonymous source making unverifiable claims about one incident.  

    I'm sure it's happened unfairly to Clinton during this primary race, too.


    as long as there (none / 0) (#42)
    by andreww on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:41:45 PM EST
    is a paper trail, I would agree.  In the absence of a paper trail, secret ballot is much much worse than caucus.  At least at a caucus people can see if an election is being stolen.

    Secret Ballot,Paper Trail,Open Counting and number reporting.  All four are required to have a true democracy.  Unfortunately, in many areas we only have one of the four.


    How can you "hate Iowa"? I thought you (none / 0) (#51)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:51:16 PM EST
    sd. you'd never even been there.  Only those of us from Iowa are permitted to hate Iowa.

    Another reason caucuses area joke. (none / 0) (#3)
    by DA in LA on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:35:46 PM EST

    The secret ballot is the only way (none / 0) (#14)
    by mtj on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 08:53:04 PM EST
      to conduct an election. The Iowa system sucks and should be outlawed by the parties (I know, fat chance).

    So... (none / 0) (#31)
    by jarober on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:13:49 PM EST
    So if a primary selection is this important, shouldn't a union vote be as well?  Why are Democrats in favor of the equally heinous "Card Check" idea?  If public voting is bad, it's bad everywhere.

    What is your objection to card check? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:15:30 PM EST
    *cough* (none / 0) (#44)
    by jarober on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:45:18 PM EST
    Big Tent: Go read Jeralyn's post, above.  Re-read as many times as necessary until you understand my objections to Card Check.

    That is no answer (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 07:39:32 AM EST
    Do you find it impossible to articulate your concerns?

    Card Check (none / 0) (#48)
    by Molly Bloom on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:04:18 PM EST
    Maybe this will help you understand the difference.

    I would agree... (none / 0) (#46)
    by andreww on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:47:57 PM EST
    that quoting Taylor Marsh is a big problem.  The concern raised is certainly valid - but what we don't know is if the "union" that's pressuring in this case is truly THE union - or if it's one person within the union pressing their views on another.  The latter is still bad of course, but means something different.

    I stopped going to Taylor Marsh when she posted "What happens if Mr. Hope meets Mr. Experience" referring to Obama and McCain.  She went on to ask what would happen if Obama was the nominee and "A bomb went off somewhere".  Basically, she became a Fox News fear monger to me when I saw that post.  Moreover, I think an Obama v McCain matchup would be good for the country since I think they are the best positioned to represent their sides respective views.

    On a separate note, but part of a larger conversation posted, I am a big Obama supporter  but visiting this site has made me think much more about why I support Obama, and why I believe in his message.  It has also made me more open to Hillary and Edwards and dislike them significantly less. Any medium that can make us sit back, think, and listen to other points of view is all good, and for that I thank Jeralyn and BTD.

    Caucuses: more than just union pressure to blame (none / 0) (#50)
    by jerry on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:41:04 PM EST
    Caucuses are exploitable by a lot of bad actors, not just unions.  And the reason of course is the non secret ballot.

    Non-secret ballots are also a problem for:

    1.  Absentee ballots, where the union or employer can insist you bring your ballot and vote in front of the union leader or employer.

    2.  Many paper trail mechanisms that provide you a receipt and proof of your vote that you can take home.  This is why the better electronic voting with paper trail mechanisms just print out a human readable optical scanned ballot so you can check your vote, ensure your ballot is printed correctly, and drop it in.

    But the non-secret ballot leads to union pressure has had me puzzled as to why we think that union votes should be non-secret.

    I am for unions, but I don't understand why non-secret ballots during union votes are anything we should support.

    Work Place Voting (none / 0) (#53)
    by BDB on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 11:28:37 AM EST
    I've had very mixed feelings about the current lawsuit over the at-large districts.  I'm all for permitting as many folks as possible, including casino workers to participate, so to that extent I like the at-large districts.  I'm less enthused about the apparent preferential treatment the casino workers were getting, however, and I'm sympathetic to non-casino workers being upset about that.  

    The political nature of the suit only bothers me a little bit because if folks are being treated unfairly in an election, then that should be remedied, IMO, regardless of the reasons behind the lawsuit.  Also, politicians have been fighting over who votes and how - almost always based on whether it helps or hurts them - forever.  

    Plus, I'm more understanding of the political motivation in the sense that I might not care as much if my vote counts less than the casino employees if I think we're all voting for the same person.  If I learn they are likely to support a different candidate, I'm likely to care a whole lot more about their preferential treatment.  In theory we should all, of course, want everyone to participate and for everything to be fair and equal, but as a practical matter we usually only complain if we think it matters to the outcome because, well, we have better things to do.

    As for the union intimidation issue, I hate caucuses.  Said that before Iowa because of the disenfranchisement of folks who can't attend and because of the lack of a secret ballot.  What I hadn't considered about the at-large districts is the further complication of caucusing with people you work with.  I sure wouldn't want to do that.  I have less of a problem caucusing with my neighbors than co-workers and bosses.  And that's not even taking into consideration the union endorsement issue.

    This entire thing sucks.  The only thing that would fix it, IMO, is a primary.  Personally, I'm now hoping this Nevada caucus will be a complete cluster and will force folks to seriously reconsider the caucus system.  The entire thing is ripe for misuse and abuse.