The next Democrat debate, scheduled to take place at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 19, is being threatened by a union labor dispute like the one that caused the venue to be moved from UCLA.
The dispute does not directly involve the university. UNITE HERE Local 11 is in the midst of a collective bargaining agreement with a subcontractor, Sodexo, which provides food on the campus (and others). Politico reported Friday that there have been demonstrations on campus about the dispute since November.
As of 12:45 p.m. PT on Friday, every single one of the seven Democratic candidates who had qualified for the debate — and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who had not — said that they would not cross the union’s picket line, and that no Democratic candidates should:
I won't be crossing a picket line. We’ve got to stand together with @UniteHere11 for affordable health care and fair wages. A job is about more than just a paycheck. It's about dignity. https://t.co/nn4tb5q8wt
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 13, 2019
.@UniteHere11 is fighting for better wages and benefits—and I stand with them. The DNC should find a solution that lives up to our party's commitment to fight for working people. I will not cross the union's picket line even if it means missing the debate.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 13, 2019
I stand with the workers of @UniteHere11 on campus at Loyola Marymount University fighting Sodexo for a better contract. I will not be crossing their picket line.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 13, 2019
I take the debate stage to stand up for workers’ rights, not to undermine them.
I stand in solidarity with the workers of @UNITEHERE11 at Loyola Marymount University and I will not cross their picket line.
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) December 13, 2019
The dignity of work must always be promoted and protected. I support @UNITEHERE11 in their fight for fair wages and benefits. No Democratic candidate should cross the picket line.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 13, 2019
As I said at my event with labor leaders here in Miami, I will not cross the picket line and I will stand with @UniteHere11 to fight for the dignity of work.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 13, 2019
I support @UNITEHERE11. If their dispute with @sodexoUSA is not resolved before the debate, I will not cross the picket line. I trust the DNC will find a solution ahead of the debate, and I stand with @LoyolaMarymount workers in their fight for fair wages and benefits.
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) December 13, 2019
I won’t cross the @UniteHere11 picket line to attend next week’s debate. We must live our values and there is nothing more core to the Democratic Party than the fight for working people. I support @UniteHere11 in their fight for the compensation and benefits they deserve.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) December 13, 2019
The debate was moved from UCLA a month ago after the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union asked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) not to hold the debate there because of an ongoing dispute about short-term outsourcing.
California is considered an important battleground state in the 2020 primary because in 2016 it passed a law to move its primary day earlier, from the first week of June to the first week of March, where it will join other states across the nation on “Super Tuesday,” the fifth contest of the primary season after the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary, Nevada caucuses, and South Carolina primary.
The debate, if it is to take place, will be hosted by Politico and PBS NewsHour.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.