Democrats won't hold debate at UCLA due to union dispute

Democrats won't hold debate at UCLA due to union dispute
© Greg Nash

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is looking for an alternative location for the sixth 2020 presidential primary debate after concerns about using a venue at the University of California, Los Angeles were raised by local labor officials.

HuffPost first reported Wednesday that DNC officials had instructed the debate's media partners, "PBS Newshour" and Politico, to find an alternative location for the event scheduled for December.

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“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,” DNC senior adviser Mary Beth Cahill wrote in an email to the campaigns obtained by The Hill.

The decision reportedly comes a day after a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) sent a letter to six of the leading Democratic candidates urging them to respect a boycott on speakers at the university called by the union.

In a statement, the union pointed to UCLA's contract demands and supposedly "illegal" labor practices as the reason for the dispute with the university system and called upon the DNC to honor a three-year-long boycott in place against the school system.

“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’s 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,” AFSCME 3299 Executive Director Liz Perlman said, according to HuffPost.

A statement from the university indicated that the DNC notified the school of its decision in late October.

"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," university officials wrote on Oct. 25. "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."