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The Latest: Warren faults Democrats’ attention toward unions

April 27, 2019

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic campaign for president (all times local):

6 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says Democrats have not paid enough attention to organized labor.

The U.S. senator from Massachusetts was among 2020 hopefuls attending a union forum Saturday in Las Vegas. In response to a question, she said she agrees that the GOP has focused more on tearing down unions than Democrats have on building them up.

Warren says Democrats and unions “have not done enough to protect each other.”

She proposed implementing a method of streamlining union elections called card check. She also called for more pro-labor voices on the National Labor Relations Board and in the Labor Department to ensure businesses treat unions fairly.

Warren detailed her plan to tax the wealthy and fund universal child care and student debt forgiveness as well as require 40% of corporate boards’ members to be representatives of employees.

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2:45 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper is calling for taking action against a key Supreme Court decision that hobbled unions last year.

The former Colorado governor told a union forum Saturday in Las Vegas that if he’s elected president he’ll reverse the Janus decision, which prevents unions from automatically deducting dues from the paychecks of government workers. A campaign spokeswoman says this could be done legislatively through Congress.

An Illinois state employee named Mark Janus successfully challenged a 41-year-old Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to require public employees to pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers chose not to join.

Hickenlooper also said he supports greater funding of child care and a $15 minimum wage phased in depending on the cost of living in local areas.

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2 p.m.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro wants the federal government to encourage companies to treat workers — and labor — better.

Castro is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He suggests that local governments only offer development incentives to businesses with good records of treating workers and organizing drives. He says the federal government could do the same sort of thing.

Speaking Saturday during a union forum in Las Vegas, Castro says a message should be sent to companies that allowing workers to organize is the right thing to do and that some pressure should be put on them.

Castro also called for better housing, recounting a Friday tour of maintenance tunnels where some homeless people live underneath Las Vegas’ glitziest casinos. He says housing “is a human right.”

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12:01 p.m.

Democratic presidential contender Beto O’Rourke is betting that he can sell Republicans on the virtues of a $15 minimum wage.

That could be a tough sell: It would mean more than doubling the current federal minimum, $7.25 an hour.

The former Texas congressman says he’d tell conservative business leaders that a higher floor for wages enables workers to avoid taking multiple jobs and makes them loyal employees.

He says: “When everyone can just work that one job, they’re going to be better at it.”

O’Rourke is among a half dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls addressing a Las Vegas forum organized by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Service Employees International Union.

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11:30 a.m.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pitching the renewal of infrastructure in her comments to a union-sponsored forum in Las Vegas for Democratic presidential contenders.

She says the money for roads, bridges, public transit and the like should come from reversing President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and using the revenue from those higher taxes.

Klobuchar pitched her plan as form of racial justice, noting that people in Flint, Michigan, which has a majority black population, still cannot safely drink lead-tainted city water.

She says infrastructure may sound like a wonky Washington concern but it’s really about “getting people to work.” She says spending more money on roads and public transit could cut commute times that make it impossible for some people to hold down regular jobs.

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11 a.m.

Kamala (KAH’-mah-lah) Harris says that if she becomes president, she’d be happy to call the chief executive officer of McDonald’s to urge better treatment of workers.

The Democratic senator from California was asked what she’d do to help workers pushing for better treatment from the fast food giant by an employee who is part of a union campaign to raise wages there to $15 an hour. Harris and several other Democratic presidential hopefuls are speaking at a union-sponsored forum in Las Vegas Saturday.

Harris says that she’d tell the executive that McDonald’s can’t be an icon of what’s right with the United States if it doesn’t treat its workers well.

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7:50 a.m.

Six Democratic presidential candidates are vying to promote their solidarity with workers. And they’re focusing on wages and other issues of importance to labor in hopes of winning support from one of the country’s major unions.

A forum in Las Vegas organized by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Service Employees International Union comes as union leaders and their backers worry the field of at least 20 Democratic contenders isn’t spending enough time on bread-and-butter concerns.

Labor is a pillar of the Democratic Party, but many white working-class voters and union members in swing states voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016.

Democrats are trying to win back those voters. Party leaders and union members are telling candidates they need to talk about issues that matter to working families.