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ABC News: Obama Appeals To Union In Las Vegas

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ABC News: Obama appeals to union in Las Vegas

By Kathleen Hennessey

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wooed union hotel and casino workers Friday, telling them he was ready to walk their picket lines should their current contract talks turn sour.

"I have already bought my suntan lotion," Obama said bringing members of the Culinary Workers Union to their feet. "I'm prepared. I'm equipped. I'm ready to walk, I'm ready to walk. I'm ready."

The Illinois senator is on the second day of two-day sweep through Nevada, which is set to hold the second presidential caucus in the nation on Jan. 19. He campaigned in Carson City and drew a crowd of 4,000 in Reno Thursday.

On Friday, he railed against increasing executive pay and said companies were leaving American workers out of their success.

"All we're asking for is that they share the burden and benefit of this new global economy and share evenly across the board," Obama said.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hit similar notes at a campaign stop at the Culinary union hall earlier this week. Former vice presidential nominee John Edwards was scheduled to address union members Saturday.

The 60,000-member union is locked in contract negotiations with its major employers, MGM Mirage Inc. and Harrah's Entertainment Inc. The union expected to be a key organizating force in the Nevada caucus, and its endorsement is highly sought after.

Obama also discussed other topics important to union members and outlined his objections to the immigration legislation up for debate in Congress.

He said he opposes provisions governing a temporary worker program in part because the program would create a class of workers unable to unionize.

The senator also said he hoped to change provisions in the bill that create a point system for immigrants entering the country and would award points based in part on education and job skills.

"The people who came through Ellis Islandâ€"nobody was testing them to see if, you know, they were phds in physics," he said, arguing the system would undermine the current family reunification-based system and favor immigrants from wealthier countries.

This is the second time Obama has publicly addressed Culinary union members. From the union hall, the senator was to hold a rally at a high school.


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