Democratic candidates court Culinary Union, the kingmaker of Nevada

LAS VEGAS — When Edgar Montano first moved here two years ago, his work at a carwash offered sporadic hours, dismal pay and no job security.

Today, tending to guest rooms at the Luxor, the vast pyramid-shaped hotel on the southern tip of the Las Vegas Strip, his job folding linens and restocking toiletries provides the 21-year-old enough money — about $17 an hour — to not only pay rent to his stepmother, but send something back to relatives in Michoacan, Mexico.

Montano, who was born in Los Angeles to parents in the country illegally, credits his good fortune to Culinary Union Local 226, Nevada’s most powerful union. And as he thinks ahead to voting for the first time in a presidential election, he expects to follow the lead of the union that has negotiated job security, healthcare benefits and a paycheck far above the state’s minimum wage.

“We really are a family,” he said on a recent afternoon, seated in the arid garden of his stepmother’s single-story house. “And the union has taken care of me like my family.”

No wonder that as Democratic presidential hopefuls arrived here this week for their first debate, they also had their eyes on the Culinary Union.

Read more at Los Angeles Times.