Democrats Threaten to Skip Next Week’s Debate Over Union Dispute
(Bloomberg) -- All of the Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for next week’s debate say they will skip the event rather than cross a planned picket line at the venue.
The seven candidates -- Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang -- all said Friday that they would not show up for the debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles next Thursday if the Unite Here Local 11 goes forward with its protest of food service contractor Sodexo SA.
The union, which represents about 150 Sodexo employees at the LMU campus, reached out to the campaigns on Friday to inform them they planned to demonstrate. The union and the food-services company have been negotiating for months but their talks stalled this week.
This is the second labor issue to complicate plans for the December debate. It had been set to be held at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. But the Democratic National Committee asked the debate’s media sponsors to find a new location because the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees demanded that the candidates to boycott it over a contract dispute involving patient care workers at the university’s hospital system.
“The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party’s commitment to fight for working people,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “I will not cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate.”
Biden said he would not cross a picket line and had to stand with the union’s members “for affordable health care and fair wages.”
Xochitl Hinjosa, the DNC’s communications director, said late Friday that the group’s chairman, Tom Perez, “would absolutely not cross a picket line and would never expect our candidates to either.” She added that the DNC was trying to find a solution that “will enable us to proceed as scheduled with next week’s debate.”
(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)
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