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Culinary joins parent organization in calling for a Middle East ‘ceasefire’

Leaders of Nevada’s largest labor union couched the rare statement on international affairs as part of the group’s long history of opposing injustice.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

The union that represents more than 60,000 non-gaming Strip and downtown resort workers issued a statement last week concerning the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, calling for a “ceasefire in Palestine [and] democracy in the region,” even as the Biden administration has hesitated to demand a ceasefire from Israel without significant conditions on Hamas.

The unusual comments on a high-profile international matter by Las Vegas-based Culinary Workers Union Local 226 late Friday came a day after a similar statement was released by its parent organization, UNITE HERE, which touts more than 250,000 members working in the U.S. and Canadian hospitality industries. The majority of those workers, according to the organization, “are women and people of color.”

“Many of us are immigrants who came here because of conflict and violence in our homelands. We believe that unity and solidarity can enable people of all backgrounds to achieve greater equality and opportunity,” UNITE HERE’s statement said, while calling for an “immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas and immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”

Neither UNITE HERE nor the Culinary said whether or not the ceasefire in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East should have conditions tied to it.

“As the largest organization of workers in Nevada, the Culinary Union has an 89-year history of standing up for those facing oppression and injustice,” Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in the statement. “We are actively engaging with Culinary Union members and our international union, UNITE HERE, in a conversation about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and its root causes.” 

In a follow-up statement to The Nevada Independent provided by the Culinary, Pappageorge said there were discussions with union members about the issue and leadership believed it was appropriate for the organization to address the matter. 

He said the Culinary follows the guidance of UNITE HERE on international affairs.

“The horrific October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel must be reckoned with,” Pappageorge said. “We support the position of UNITE HERE, that the hostages should be released immediately and there should be an immediate ceasefire. We also intend to follow the guidance of UNITE HERE and address the war with Culinary Union members in a way that encourages discussion of different viewpoints and respectful engagement.”

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor could not be reached.

More than a half dozen affiliates of UNITE HERE, including those representing workers in the Bay Area, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Toronto and Seattle released similar statements.

The Biden administration has maintained its support of Israel since the Oct. 7 attack, even as the conflict has deepened divisions among Democrats and scores of Democrats in Congress have endorsed a permanent ceasefire. 

However, new reports indicate Biden's patience with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wearing thin as the death toll in Gaza has reached more than 31,000 and Israel prepares for a potential ground invasion.

Reporter Gabby Birenbaum contributed.


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