Published: Sat, December 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Democratic Candidates Threaten To Boycott Next Week's Debate

Democratic Candidates Threaten To Boycott Next Week's Debate

The next Democrat debate, scheduled to take place at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, on December 19, is being threatened by a union labor dispute like the one that caused the venue to be moved from UCLA. "It's about dignity." The other candidates used Twitter to post similar sentiments.

Choosing to participate in the debate as workers picketed would be challenging for any Democratic candidate and would nearly certainly antagonize organized labor, a core Democratic constituency.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the first candidate to recognize the conflict at Loyola Marymount, tweeting Friday that he would not cross the Unite Here Local 11 picket line organized against Sodexo.

"We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week", said union co-president Susan Minato. "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", Hinojosa said in a statement. She also called out the Democratic National Committee, saying the "DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party's commitment to fight for working people".

Amy Klobuchar said at an event with labor leaders in Miami that she, too, would not cross the picket lines.

Now, Unite Here Local 11 said Friday, "the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination will be greeted with picket lines at their replacement venue".

The seven candidates who have qualified for next week's debate include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens.

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Workers represented by Unite Here Local 11 have been picketing since November. Seven Democratic candidates have qualified for Thursday's debate, but three of them are now threatening to boycott the debate over a labor protest concerning a company that handles food services for the university.

After Warren and Sanders announced their support, other presidential candidates-including businessman Andrew Yang, former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg-also said they would not be crossing the picket line next Thursday. Eight candidates hit the benchmarks to make the debate stage, and one of them, Sen.

Warren's tweet was followed soon after by fellow progressive Sanders, who tweeted, "I stand with the workers" who are fighting a an LMU contractor, Sodexo, "for a better contract".

In a statement to NPR, a Sodexo spokesperson said the company is "100% committed to reaching an agreement, and any statement that we have left the bargaining table is not accurate. I trust the DNC will find a solution ahead of the debate, and I stand with (LMU) workers in their fight for fair wages and benefits".

This is the second location site set to host the December debate.

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