Look for, the union label… but possibly not at the Thursday night debate. As of this weekend, all seven of the candidates who qualified for the debate have stated that they will not show up if they have to cross a union picket line. Given that we’re talking about a union issue here, the DNC is finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. (Yahoo)
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and entrepreneur Andrew Yang all tweeted Friday that they will not show up for a debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on Thursday.
The debate had been slated for UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. But the DNC asked the debate’s media sponsors to find an alternative location because the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees asked the candidates to boycott it over a contract dispute involving patient care workers.
The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Warren, Sanders and Yang were the first out of the gate, but the other four quickly fell in line. Now, if this had been a GOP debate, our collection of blacklegs and scabs would probably have just brought along some muscle to knock the picket line out of the way and gone ahead with it. Such is the nature of a two-party system.
The union in question is UNITE HERE, and they’re currently in stalled contract negotiations, but the dispute isn’t even with the university. They’re fighting with Sodexo, a contractor providing food services on the campus. In other words, what is likely a relatively small number of cafeteria workers were able to potentially stop a presidential debate simply by sending a letter to the various campaigns.
If you were thinking that the influence of the labor unions on the Democratic Party had waned at all in recent years, think again. Their membership across the nation is down and they took a hit to their coffers after the ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, but they are still funneling most of their money into political campaigns. And that money goes pretty much exclusively to Democrats.
UNITE HERE isn’t even a particularly large union. They boast roughly 300,000 members, with 100,000 of them working in the foodservice industry. But they definitely have their hand in the game. Looking at their list of contributions for the 2020 election cycle, they’ve managed to kick in nearly half a million dollars to various candidates. And they’re playing in presidential politics to be sure. They’ve made generous donations to Warren, Buttigieg, Williamson, Gabbard, Harris, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Castro, Biden, Booker and Sanders. Heck, they even sent Bill de Blasio $66. Basically, all you had to do was declare you were running in the primary and they would cut you a check.
They do seem to be playing some favorites, however. For example, Joe Biden received a rather paltry check for $100 while Bernie Sanders received $4,665.
The small local supporting the food service workers at Loyola Marymount are benefitting from all of this largess now. With one click on the “send” button dispatching an email to each of the campaigns, they’ve been able to threaten to shut down the DNC’s signature event of December. And not one of those candidates was willing to risk angering them because all the unions have to stick together.