The Culinary Union, caught up in a battle to organize Station Casinos workers, is threatening to sit the November election out, hurting the party’s chances in Nevada.

The largest, most powerful union in Nevada has been locked for years in a fierce and bitter battle with one of Las Vegas’ most prominent families. The skirmish between workers and Station Casinos, owners of several nonunion slot palaces, is one of the biggest labor fights in the country.

Now the dispute threatens to spill over into the presidential campaign, to the detriment of President Obama, who is set to deliver an education speech Thursday in Las Vegas, and of fellow Democrats, who are grappling to gain a U.S. Senate seat to help keep Nevada’s Harry Reid as majority leader.

With 54,000 members, Culinary Union Local 226 is a potent political force in one of the last bastions of labor strength. Its voter registration and turnout operations have contributed much to Democrats’ success, including victories by Obama in 2008 and Reid in 2010.

Democrats are counting on another strong effort as they build their fall campaign in Nevada, one of 10 or so battlegrounds that could decide the presidential race.

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