Democratic debate forced to leave UCLA over labor dispute

LOS ANGELES — A planned December debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls is being relocated off the UCLA campus due to a continuing labor dispute, officials announced Wednesday.

A new location for the Dec. 19 Democratic National Committee event has not yet been determined.

“This morning (Wednesday), the Democratic National Committee asked our media partners to move the Dec. 19, 2019, debate to another venue following renewed and unanticipated objections from organized labor,” according to a statement from UCLA. “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.”

DNC officials could not be reached for immediate comment. In a statement to HuffPost, DNC senior adviser Mary Beth Cahill said, “In response to concerns raised by the local organized labor community in Los Angeles, we have asked our media partners to seek an alternative site for the December debate.”

The debate had been scheduled at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. The debate was expected to air live on PBS and be live-streamed across PBS NewsHour digital platforms on the web, mobile and connected TVs and on Politico’s digital and social platforms.

The move comes in response to a continuing dispute between the University of California and AFSCME Local 3299, which represents more than 25,000 UC service and patient technical care workers. The union has been locked in a labor dispute with the university, most recently accusing the UC of outsourcing jobs to “lower-wage private contractors.”

Liz Perlman, the union’s executive director, said previously that the union has been reaching out to Democratic candidates asking them 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.”

The union issued a statement Wednesday applauding the DNC’s decision to relocate the debate.

“And we are grateful to the candidates and other leaders who have stood with us in solidarity on our picket lines,” according to the union. “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.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.