Culinary Union launches the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition


Thursday, March 30, 2017

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Bethany 387-7088 


Culinary Union launches the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition

Dedicated to controlling the cost of diabetes care 

LAS VEGAS, NV – Today, the Culinary Union launched the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition ( to build public support for controlling the cost of diabetes to Nevada’s taxpayers and families who are fighting the disease. 

The Culinary Union announced the launch this week to more than 100 workers who had taken a leave-of-absence from their hotel and casino jobs last year to work on the union’s massive get-out-the-vote campaign as political organizers and turned Nevada blue for the Democrats on Election Day.  They knocked on over 350,000 doors, talked to more than 75,000 voters, and delivered 54,000 early votes.  Now they are turning their attention to healthcare issues at the state and federal level.

In Nevada today, approximately 281,355 Nevada adults, or 12.4%, have diabetes, including 75,000 who do not know they have the disease. Another 787,000 of Nevada adults, or 38.5%, have pre-diabetes.  According to recent estimates, during their lifetime, at least 1 in 3 adults will develop diabetes by 2050; half of all Latinos and half of African-American women nationally are projected to develop the disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  Children who develop the disease face a lifetime of medication and disease management.

Diabetes is a public health epidemic that costs Nevadans $2.4 billion every year in medical costs.  Prescribed retail pharmaceuticals account for an estimated 57.6% of total diabetes healthcare spending. Insulin, the primary drug for controlling diabetes, was discovered 95 years ago, but drug companies have raised insulin prices as much as 450% beyond inflation since 1996.

“Diabetes does not discriminate and this epidemic is not a partisan political issue,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union and Chairwoman of the Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition. “Republicans, Independents and Democrats can work together for the good of Nevadans.”

The Culinary Health Fund, which is sponsored by the union and Las Vegas-area employers, provides health insurance coverage for over 143,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s 57,000 members and their dependents.  Through the health fund, the Culinary Union is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. 

“We have thousands of members who are impacted by the diabetes epidemic,” said Arguello-Kline.  “The high prices of pharmaceutical drugs like insulin drive up the cost of healthcare and this affects not just our members and their families, but all Nevadans.”

“Before I received Culinary health insurance at the Cosmopolitan I really had to struggle to pay for my healthcare,” said Shawn Best, a Culinary union member and cook.  “In early 2016 I was diagnosed with diabetes and I’m concerned about the impact on our coverage of high cost diabetes drugs.  I currently have five prescriptions related to my diabetes.”

Every day in the United States: 3,835 Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes and it will cause 200 Americans to undergo an amputation, 136 to enter end-stage kidney disease treatment, and 1,795 to develop severe retinopathy that can lead to vision loss and blindness (American Diabetes Association).

The Nevada Diabetes Political Coalition will launch a campaign in every legislative district asking constituents to encourage their elected representatives to hold drug makers accountable for high prices and ensure Nevadans have affordable access to needed diabetes medicines. For more information, go to


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with over 57,000 members - a diverse membership that is approximately 55% women and 56% Latino. Members - who work as guest room attendants, bartenders, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, and kitchen workers - come from 167 countries and speak over 40 different languages. The Culinary Union has been fighting for fair wages, job security, and good health benefits for working men and women in Nevada for over 82 years.

The Culinary Union encourages the public to stay away from Nevada hotels and casinos involved in active labor disputes such as most of the Station Casinos properties, including Palms, Red Rock Resort, and Green Valley Ranch. (We note that the company’s Boulder Station does not currently have a labor dispute.) To see the list of hotels and casinos in an active labor dispute, go to: / @Culinary226


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