Democratic candidates threaten to skip debate amid labor fight

The next DNC debate is at risk of not happening at all. 

All 7 Democrats who have qualified for the next DNC Debate at Loyola Marymount have threatened to skip the event, saying they will not cross a picket line of campus workers locked in a labor dispute.

Per Axios

  • A labor union is angry about “stalled contract negotiations for food service” at the venue where the debate will be held.
  • In a letter, the union warned that 2020 Democrats “will be greeted with picket lines.”
  • A source familiar with the negotiations told Axios that it was “not made aware of the issue until after the letter was sent” and that the DNC is looking into it.

Politico reports all seven Democratic candidates who have qualified for the PBS NewsHour/POLITICO Debate at Loyola Marymount University next week threatened on Friday to skip the event, asserting they would not cross the picket line of campus workers locked in a labor dispute.

UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing 150 cashiers, cooks, dishwashers and servers at the university, said in a statement that it had not yet reached a resolution in negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement with Sodexo — a global services company that employs the workers and is subcontracted by the university to handle food service operations.

Local 11 began talks with Sodexo in March, but said the company last week canceled scheduled contract negotiations after workers and students began picketing on campus in November.

“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 Local 11, said in the statement. “Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Local 11 “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.”

Half an hour later, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted: “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.”

Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang also tweeted that he would not cross the Local 11 workers’ picket line to attend the 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,” he wrote.

“I won’t be crossing a picket line,” former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted. “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.”