Why the Democrats Could Postpone This Week's Planned Debate
UPDATED: The debate will continue as planned. The Sacramento Bee reports that a tentative agreement has been struck between Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11. Elizabeth Warren joined Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and Loyola Marymount University employees to announce the good news.
"This is a huge victory for American workers, but it is just the beginning,” Warren said. "When I am president of the United States, we will put more power back in the hands of the people, and the people will get the wages, benefits and respect they deserve."
The Bee adds that under the agreement, "LMU food services workers would get a 25 percent pay raise and have their health care costs cut in half, according to the DNC." The debate will begin at 5 p.m. PST Thursday and air on PBS and online.
This Thursday's Democratic debate may not happen, after all. According to Politico and CNN, a labor dispute is keeping the event off the books. Set to take place at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, the PBS NewsHour/Politico Debate would happen in the middle of a labor dispute. Unite Here Local 11, a union that represents more than 150 cashiers, cooks, dishwashers, and servers at LMU is currently in negotiations with Sodexo, a services company that is contracted with the university.
Though negotiations started back in March, no resolution has been found and picketers began demonstrating back in November.
"We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week," Susan Minato, co-President of Local 11, said in a statement. "Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus."
The Democratic National Committee told Politico that it was working with all parties involved to reach a compromise, though nothing has been announced yet and it's still unclear whether or not the debate will happen as scheduled.
"The DNC and LMU learned of this issue earlier today, and it is our understanding this matter arose within the last day," Xochitl Hinojosa, the DNC communications director, said. "While LMU is not a party to the negotiations between Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11, Tom Perez would absolutely not cross a picket line and would never expect our candidates to either."
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders both tweeted their support of Unite Here Local 11. Former Vice President Joe Biden also stood with the union. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, activist Tom Steyer, and Andrew Yang echoed the sentiments.
During an event in Miami, Florida, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said: "I don't believe we should cross a picket line. So I would encourage the DNC to try to work this out to find a new location, or they're going to have to figure out how to resolve this."
CNN notes that this is the second time that picket lines have derailed the last planned televised Democratic debate. UCLA was supposed to host the event when it was announced last October, however AFSCME Local 3299, the University of California's largest employee union, demanded a boycott of all speaking engagements. The organization has been in negotiations with the 10-campus system for almost three years.