- They did so to stand in solidarity with campus food service workers who are on strike after contract negotiations for better wages and healthcare broke down on Friday.
- "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 UNITE HERE Local 11, said in a statement.
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Five top Democratic contenders for the 2020 nomination are threatening to skip next week's primary debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in solidarity with campus food service workers who are on strike.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg have all signaled their support for UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents 150 servers, dishwashers, cashiers, and cooks at LMU.
The group asked Democratic candidates not to cross the picket line at the university where workers are on strike after contract negotiations for better wages and healthcare with Sodexo, the company that employs the workers, broke down on Friday.
"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 UNITE HERE Local 11, said in the statement. "Instead, workers will be picketing when the candidates come to campus."
"Honestly, the proposals are relatively modest living wage, improvements on health care," she said. "So we did not anticipate that there would be majority difficulty over it. But we were wrong. They abruptly canceled negotiations. I believe they were for today. And so that put us in the position of really declaring that this is a true fight now."
Sodexo put out a statement of its own through a spokesperson who said the company "is 100% committed to reaching an agreement, and any statement that we have left the bargaining table is not accurate.
"We have been negotiating in good faith with the Unite Here Local 11 since December of last year with a goal to reach a new collective bargaining agreement that is equitable for everyone, including our employees, and we still intend to achieve such an agreement," the spokesperson added.
Warren tweeted that UNITE HERE Local 11 "is fighting for better wages and benefitsand I stand with them. The [Democratic National Committee] 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."
Sanders weighed in shortly after to signal his support for the workers on strike. "I stand with the workers of @UniteHere11 on campus at Loyola Marymount University fighting Sodexo for a better contract," he wrote. "I will not be crossing their picket line."
"I won't cross the @UniteHere11 picket line to attend next week's debate," Yang tweeted. "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."
Biden chimed in as well, tweeting, "I won't be crossing a picket line. We've got to stand together with @UniteHere11 for affordable health care and fair wages. A job is about more than just a paycheck. It's about dignity."
Buttigieg wrote: "I take the debate stage to stand up for workers' rights, not to undermine them. I stand in solidarity with the workers of @UniteHere11 at Loyola Marymount University and I will not cross their picket line."
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