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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Andrew Yang tweeted on Friday afternoon that they may skip next week’s Democratic presidential debate due to a union dispute involving the debate host Loyola Marymount University and Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company.
Sodexo employees—who work at the university and are represented by Unite Here Local 11, a union that represents 31,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona—are reportedly fighting for wage and benefit increases.
Warren was to first tweet that she might skip the debate due to the dispute between Unite Here Local 11 and Sodexo.
“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,” Warren wrote.
.@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
Roughly a half-hour later, Sanders echoed Warren’s sentiments, saying, “I stand with the workers … fighting Sodexo for a better contract.”
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
Twenty minutes later, Yang signed on to skip the debate due to the dispute.
“I won’t cross the @UniteHere11 picket line,” he wrote.
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
Yes! #shesmypresident I wonder if any of the other candidates who claim to support unions will do the same 🤔 this union employee is certainly watching.— 🗽 Jess *TWOCENT* WR🐉 (@TheNerdFeminist) December 13, 2019
Sodexo is an enormous company with thousands of lucrative contracts. They can afford to pay a good wage AND benefits. Giant corporations MUST be reigned in!— Chris Rose (@ChrisRose_BLUE) December 13, 2019
Good move boss— Mike 🧢 (@OriginalTPM) December 13, 2019
We really need to be on that stage, but I can admire a man who stands by his principles and beliefs, even if that stand could have lasting negative effects
Proud of you 🤓👍
So much easier for BS + EW to make this call. They KNOW they'll get more exposure anyway
In recent years, the Democratic party has had some difficulties appealing to working Americans, though their union support is historically strong. Many Democratic candidates courting this important voting block have tried to improve the party’s focus on labor rights.
If Sanders, Warren, and Yang decline to participate, the Dec. 19 debate will feature the remaining four candidates: Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Tom Steyer.
Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.