By Patrick Hipes
UPDATED with statement from Local 3299: An ongoing dispute between UCLA and the main labor union repping University of California employees has forced the Democratic National Committee to move its scheduled December debate from the university’s Royce Hall. A new venue has not yet been selected.
The debate, hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico, will still be held December 19 in Los Angeles. For the sixth debate of the election cycle, candidates must be at 4% or better in at least four polls and must have at least 200,000 unique donors to get onstage. So far, five candidates have qualified: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.
“This morning, the Democratic National Committee asked our media partners to move the December 19, 2019 debate to another venue following renewed and unanticipated objections from organized labor,” read a statement on the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs website. “With regret, we have agreed to step aside as the site of the debate rather than become a potential distraction during this vitally important time in our country’s history.”
The union, AFSCME Local 3299, represents more than 10,000 service and patient care employees in the UC system and is in the midst of a three-year boycott. Read its full statement in response to the DNC’s announcement below.
“What we’re doing is asking for the candidates who are coming to UCLA’s campus to honor the three-year boycott that we’ve had in place for any speaker attending any event on any of the University of California campuses to stand in solidarity with the workers and essentially to not lend their name and credibility to the university that’s treating workers like this,” said Liz Perlman, union’s executive director, in a Facebook post.
The next debate will take place in Georgia on November 20, with MSNBC and the Washington Post as hosts.
Here is the full statement from AFSCME Local 3299:
“We applaud the decision by the DNC to stand with University of California workers in their fight for fair treatment from California’s 3rd largest employer. And we are grateful to the candidates and other leaders who have stood with us in solidarity on our picket lines. Just as our next President must work to heal the divisions in our country, they must also work to confront the staggering inequality and mistreatment of low wage workers that have become all too common in today’s economy. While a change of venue for this debate is no doubt inconvenient, it pales in comparison to the effect that the University’s lawless outsourcing practices are having on thousands of families and communities across California. It is past time for UC to honor the aspirations of those who do the hard, physical work of making this institution run and not just ivory tower elites.”
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