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Dem debacle: All qualifying candidates threaten to boycott debate over union dispute

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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.

(Image: MSNBC screenshot)

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.

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.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also made it clear he would not cross the picket line.

“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.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also stood with the labor group as did billionaire Tom Steyer.

“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.

Ironically, it seems the existence of a labor issue seemed to come as a surprise.


Frieda Powers


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