Capital and Labor go to War in Vegas over Obama

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Ben Cohen
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There's a serious battle going on in Las Vegas that encapsulates the ongoing conflict between capital and labor in the US, the consequences of which could even determine the Presidential election. Reports the Guardian:

On one side the Culinary Union, representing Lawrence and 55,000 other casino cooks, bell hops and chambermaids, is investing its formidable organisational power in a get-out-the-vote drive for President Barack Obama.

On the other side the gaming moguls Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn and Donald Trump, with a combined worth greater than $25bn, are investing their reputations and chequebooks to promote Mitt Romney.

At stake are the state's six electoral college votes, a small but potentially decisive prize in a tight presidential race. Opinion polls suggest a virtual tie in Nevada, Obama with 47%, Romney with 46%, meaning just a few votes could determine the result.

Unions have long known how to fight the mega rich - they use on the ground campaigns based around community that can be incredibly effective given the disparity in funding. But with the emergence of Super Pacs, the rich are finding new and creative ways to destroy unions and beat them at their own game:

Newly formed conservative groups such as Nevada Hispanics canvass voters at home, at supermarkets and at community events – mimicking a venerable Democratic and union strategy.

"We have very different ideologies but our campaigns have become more similar," said Yvanna Cancela, political director of the Culinary Union. "Republicans used to stick to television and mail drops but they've learned being out in the field works. This means we need to be even more organised and to knock on every door."

Which is why dozens of shop stewards and activists like Lawrence have taken unpaid leave – with employers' permission - to campaign full time until election day even though their union pay tends to be less than regular salaries and overtime.

The vitriol with which billionaires like Wynn, Trump and Adelson have attacked President Obama with in regards to his economic policies is truly scary. The myth that Obama is a far left 'wealth re-distributor' is simply not borne out by the facts - his tax policies are more conservative than Ronald Reagan's, and his proposals for his second term are to raise taxes to rates slightly lower than those of Bill Clinton's. Wynn, Trump and Adelson all made their billions during the 80's and 90's, so why they believe Obama's kinder tax scheme will destroy their ability to make money is anyone's guess.

Using grassroots campaigns to convince working Americans that they should vote for less rights and more tax cuts for the rich is an amazing feat if you think about it given how effective they are - and if it wasn't so disgusting you could even give them credit for creativity.

The battle for Las Vegas is an important one as President Obama represents the last hope for unions and the labor movement at the Presidential level. Obama isn't exactly going out to bat for unions on a daily basis, but he does support them and is no doubt a better friend to labor than a Romney Presidency would be. If the Culinary union manages to beat back Wynn, Trump and Adelson in Vegas it will prove that all is not lost in America's beleaguered labor movement, and that people can still win against money no matter the odds.

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