Boilermakers target Ryan at Las Vegas Rally

Boilermakers march in front of the Venetian. L. to r., IR Frank May; Gary Wignall, L-3, D-PA Bridget Martin; IR Dan Hamilton; Marc Bogenschutz, L-1620; and Mike Chapman, L-1620.

Billionaire-owned casino hosts GOP fundraiser

DOZENS OF BOILERMAKERS joined with hundreds of other union members August 15 in front of the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas to protest Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate for the White House.

Ryan was in Las Vegas for an apparent fundraising event with the Venetian’s owner, billionaire and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

Braving triple-digit heat, union members marched along the sidewalk carrying signs and chanting slogans. While Ryan never made an appearance at the rally, labor’s presence caught the attention of visitors along the crowded Strip as well as the local media. The Las Vegas Sun ran a photo of Political Affairs Director Bridget Martin and quotes from both Martin and Legislative Affairs Director Cecile Conroy in its morning edition the following day.

Most of the Boilermakers attending the rally were in town for the Industrial Sector Operations conference. About a dozen Local 92 (Los Angeles) members drove to the event after getting off work at the Ivanpah solar power plant project about an hour away.

The largest turnout came from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which was in town for its convention. The Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council was also well represented.

The Romney-Ryan ticket is openly anti-labor. Romney’s choice of Ryan as a running mate is especially alarming, as he has developed an economic austerity plan that calls for, among other things, converting Medicare into a voucher program that would have serious cost implications for seniors.

Organized labor has a strong presence in Las Vegas, where hotel and casino workers (except for Adelson’s Venetian) have unionized.

The Boilermakers’ Conroy told the Sun, “I think Romney and Ryan can expect a lot more of this [opposition] in union towns.”

The Labor Movement is rightly concerned by the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that opened the gates to unlimited corporate donations for so-called “political speech.” The fear is that corporations can easily outspend competing interests and therefore sway elections. Many are supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision.