Candidates threaten to boycott debate over labor dispute at Loyola Marymount

David Lauter, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- At least three of the seven Democratic presidential candidates who have qualified for next week's scheduled debate in Los Angeles threatened Friday to skip the event to express support for union workers in a contract dispute at Loyola Marymount University.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first to jump into the fray, declaring in a tweet that she would miss the debate rather than cross a picket line.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur, quickly followed with similar statements, as did former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who has not qualified for the debate.

The dispute between union cooks, dishwashers and servers at Loyola and Sodexo, the company that runs the school's food service, is the second labor action that has threatened the Thursday debate. In November, the Democratic National Committee moved the debate to Loyola from UCLA because of a contract dispute there involving the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Unite Here Local 11, which represents roughly 150 Sodexo employees at Loyola Marymount, said the union has been in contract negotiation since March and began picketing last month.


"We had hoped that workers would have a contract with wages and affordable health insurance before the debate next week. Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus," Susan Minato, the local's co-president, said in a statement.

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