Next week’s Democratic primary debate is in trouble as every one of the candidates who qualified are signaling they may not participate due to a labor dispute.
The seven Democrats who qualified for the presidential debate in Los Angeles next week are threatening to skip it due to a dispute going on between the venue and the food workers’ union.
The Dec. 19 event at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles was to be the sixth Democratic National Committee presidential debate, but is now facing the possibility that none of the 2020 hopefuls who met the threshold for taking part in the debate will even show up, announcing they would not be crossing the picket line in the dispute with Unite Here Local 11, the labor organization representing over 30,000 hospitality workers, and Sodexo, the company that handles food services for the university.
After the union says negotiations broke down with @sodexoUSA, @UNITEHERE11 tells me that they informed candidates this morning that they will be boycotting the upcoming @DNC debate at @LoyolaMarymount: pic.twitter.com/27ZBqnNvQ4
— Alexander Tin (@ThisAlexTin) December 13, 2019
The event was already moved from a prior location due to another labor dispute.
Progressive Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders quickly announced they would not attend the debate with the dispute ongoing.
.@UniteHere11 is fighting for better wages and benefits—and I stand with them. The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party’s commitment to fight for working people. I will not cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 13, 2019
I stand with the workers of @UniteHere11 on campus at Loyola Marymount University fighting Sodexo for a better contract. I will not be crossing their picket line.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 13, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden also made it clear he would not cross the picket line.
I won’t be crossing a picket line. We’ve got to stand together with @UniteHere11 for affordable health care and fair wages. A job is about more than just a paycheck. It’s about dignity. https://t.co/nn4tb5q8wt
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 13, 2019
“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week,” Susan Minato, co-President of Unite Here, said in a statement. “Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus.”
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg also threatened to skip the event.
I take the debate stage to stand up for workers’ rights, not to undermine them.
I stand in solidarity with the workers of @UNITEHERE11 at Loyola Marymount University and I will not cross their picket line.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 13, 2019
I won’t cross the @UniteHere11 picket line to attend next week’s debate. We must live our values and there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for working people. I support @UniteHere11 in their fight for the compensation and benefits they deserve.
— Andrew Yang? (@AndrewYang) December 13, 2019
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also stood with the labor group as did billionaire Tom Steyer.
As I said at my event with labor leaders here in Miami, I will not cross the picket line and I will stand with @UniteHere11 to fight for the dignity of work.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 13, 2019
I support @UNITEHERE11. If their dispute with @sodexoUSA is not resolved before the debate, I will not cross the picket line. I trust the DNC will find a solution ahead of the debate, and I stand with @LoyolaMarymount workers in their fight for fair wages and benefits.
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) December 13, 2019
“We have been negotiating in good faith with the Unite Here Local 11 since December of last year with a goal to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that is equitable for everyone, including our employees, and we still intend to achieve such an agreement,” a spokesperson for Sodexo said in a statement, adding that the company “is 100% committed to reaching an agreement, and any statement that we have left the bargaining table is not accurate.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard had not qualified for the debate.
The dignity of work must always be promoted and protected. I support @UNITEHERE11 in their fight for fair wages and benefits. No Democratic candidate should cross the picket line.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 13, 2019
Ironically, it seems the existence of a labor issue seemed to come as a surprise.
The DNC and LMU were not aware of the labor dispute until after the union sent the letter, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. The DNC is looking into the matter, the source said.https://t.co/DQAIevMFD5
— Dan Merica (@merica) December 13, 2019
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