All seven of the Democratic candidates who have qualified for next week's debate have now threatened to skip the debate, siding with workers in an ongoing labor dispute.
The sixth Democratic National Committee presidential debate will take place at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles next week. 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.
Andrew Yang and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have all sided with United Here Local 11, a labor organization that represents some 31,000 hospitality workers throughout Southern California and Arizona. All three candidates announced on Twitter that they would not be crossing the picket line in order to attend next week's debate.
.@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 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 workers are hoping to strike a better deal with the company Sodexo, which handles food services for Loyola Marymount University. According to the Los Angeles Loyolan, a student newspaper, Sodexo workers have been protesting since early November for a better contract that includes higher pay. At a protest in November, the workers handed out bilingual signs denouncing Sodexo as "unfair" and encouraged university students to join their cause.
The seven candidates who have qualified for next week's debate include former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, as well as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.
Controversy has already surrounded the debate, due to the lack of diversity among the candidates who have qualified and one of the moderator's ties to conservative media. The debate will be hosted by PBS's Newshour and Politico.