Democratic Candidates Threaten To Boycott Next Week's Debate

Elias Hubbard
December 14, 2019

Top Democratic candidates have pledged to skip next week's debate in light of a planned protest by workers at the event's venue, Loyola Marymount University, according to their campaigns' Twitter accounts.

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 December 19 Democratic debate in Los Angeles if a local labor union dispute can't get resolved. Eventually, all the candidates vowed not to cross the "picket line" outside the Los Angeles university, where workers are scheduled to protest on the debate's date, December 19.

The dispute between UNITE HERE Local 11 and Sodexo threatens to throw off plans for the December 19 debate, which is slated for Loyola Marymount University. I will not cross the union's picket line even if it means missing the debate. The union represents university cashiers, cooks, dishwashers and other food service employees; the company contracts with major institutions for food service.

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.

It is unclear whether both parties will strike a deal before the debate.

The Democratic National Committee, which organizes its party's presidential debates, said it and school officials weren't made aware of the issue until the union's statement and was looking into the matter. "Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus", said Unite co-president, Susan Minato.

Candidate Julián Castro has not qualified for the debate, but urged his fellow candidates not to attend.

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".

The original debate site was supposed to have been UCLA but it was move to LMU due to a labor negotiation dispute at UCLA. Kamala Harris, has dropped out of the race. Andrew Yang, the underdog tech entrepreneur who was the last candidate to make the stage, said the same, and then former Vice President Joe Biden joined in.

Last month's Democraticpresidential debate, the fifth of the cycle, featured ten candidates on stage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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