All the 2020 candidates who qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate have vowed to bow out of the event because they don’t want to cross a picket line to get there.
Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer announced on Friday that they would pull out of the Thursday Democratic debate in Los Angeles if a local labour union dispute can’t get resolved.
The Democratic National Committee decided last month that it would move the debate from the University of California, Los Angeles to Loyola Marymount University following a conflict between UCLA and AFSCME Local 3299.
Now, however, the DNC finds itself in the crosshairs of another dispute. UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents 150 workers who prepare and serve meals for Loyola Marymount students, said it would boycott the next presidential debate after negotiations broke down with Sodexo, the university’s food services subcontractor.
“We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week. Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus,” said a statement from Susan Minato, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11.
Shortly after the announcement, Warren, Sanders and Yang took to Twitter and committed to not crossing the picket lines.
“The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party’s commitment to fighting for working people.
“I will not cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate,” Warren wrote.
Yang said “there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for working people,” while Sanders said he stood with the university workers “fighting Sodexo for a better contract.”
Biden, Buttigieg, and Steyer also offered their support for the Loyola Marymount workers, with Biden calling for them to receive “affordable healthcare and fair wages,” Buttigieg saying he would not “undermine” workers’ rights and Steyer urging the Democratic National Committee to “find a solution ahead of the debate.”
Klobuchar said at an event with labour leaders in Miami that she, too, would not cross the picket lines.
The debate is the first (and likely the last) to be held in California before the state’s March 3 primary election.
The Democratic National Committee announced that its next four debates will be held in January and February in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, leaving room for two more planned debates between March and June.
The Democratic National Committee said it’s working with the labour union and others involved and expects the debate to go on as planned.
“We are working with all stakeholders to find an acceptable resolution that meets their needs and is consistent with our values and will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, the committee’s communications director.