2020 Candidates Threaten to Skip Debate Because of Labor Dispute

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The seven Democratic candidates who have qualified for next week’s presidential debate in California threatened to skip it on Friday, saying they will not cross a picket line of union workers embroiled in a labor dispute.

Unite Here Local 11, a union representing food workers at debate host Loyola Marymount University, have promised to picket the site ahead of next Thursday’s debate as they continue negotiations on a contract with Sodexo, the company that employs them.

After the union informed the candidates of the planned picket line on Friday, all of the debate participants quickly issued statements of support.

“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 wages.”

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and entrepreneur Andrew Yang also promised they would not cross the picket line.

“I take the debate stage to stand up for workers’ rights, not to undermine them,” Buttigieg said in a tweet, while Warren tweeted the union was fighting for better wages “and I stand with them.”

The Democrats are fighting for the nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election.

The Democratic National Committee, which sponsors the debate, said it had just learned of the issue on Friday and would never ask the party’s presidential contenders to cross a picket line.

“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, a DNC spokeswoman.

Sodexo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The union said it represents 150 cooks, dishwashers, cashiers and servers at the university who work for Sodexo, a global services company that subcontracts with the university for food service operations.

The union said in a statement it has been in negotiations since March for a new collective bargaining agreement, and the company canceled scheduled negotiations last week.

“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 Susan Minato, co-president of Unite Here Local 11.

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Marlene Marty Fowler-helfrick
Member

Good luck with getting an affordable wage in California. The cost of rent and food almost exceeds a millionaire’s pay.

sensrbtch
Guest
sensrbtch

GOOD! whoos cares what they have to say, it is all BLEPHORISM anyway! TRUMP IN 2020!

John
Guest
John

who cares? The only ones that watch it are those that have to

John Denney
Member

That’s how Democrats work. They support a cause by not doing anything. Exactly the same thing they do when they are in office.

Peter
Member

A picket line should be set up at every polling station on election day. Think about that one for a second…..LOL

Klaus J. Christoph
Member

No great loss there. Nobody wants to watch these idiots anyhow.

Mark Simmons
Member

This makes no sense. But then these are Democrats. They refuse to cross a picket line thus depriving these union workers publicity over their complaints. Essentially, they are telling this union, we won’t come. We won’t be a part of this. We won’t publicize your cause. Now the union is getting some publicity right now, but that is the media picking up the story, not the candidates. Even then, we still don’t know the particulars of this union strike, exactly what they are seeking and whether they have a case or not. No, these candidates have made this all about… Read more »

Allen Zabel
Member

“We’ve got to stand together with @UNITEHERE11 for affordable health care and wages.”
Did he forget?
That unions got a pass from Obamacare, because of their multi million dollar donations to the Democrats?
Remember, The Affordable Health care act? The greatest health care innovation ever?
So great, that the supporters, wanted nothing to do with it.

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