Politics

Tentative deal reached to end labor dispute that threatened 2020 Democratic debate

Key Points
  • Negotiators reach a tentative deal to end a labor dispute that led all the qualifiers for Thursday's 2020 Democratic presidential debate to threaten a boycott.
  • Food service workers at debate site Loyola Marymount University and their employer Sodexo come to a three-year agreement.
  • All seven candidates who will take the stage in the primary debate had said they would not cross a picket line and skip the event if necessary.
Democratic presidential hopefuls (L-R) Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders arrive for the fifth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia on November 20, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Negotiators have reached a tentative deal to end a labor dispute that led all the qualifiers for Thursday's 2020 Democratic presidential debate to threaten a boycott.

Food service workers at Los Angeles debate site Loyola Marymount University and their employer Sodexo came to a three-year agreement, UNITE HERE 11, the union that represents the employees, announced Tuesday. The union said the sides came to terms on increasing compensation by 25%, cutting health-care costs by 50% and bolstering job security after Monday evening talks.

Workers had planned to picket during the debate if they did not reach a deal before Thursday. Last week, all seven candidates who were scheduled to take the stage in the debate said they would skip the event if necessary rather than cross a picket line.

A news conference on the deal is set for later Tuesday. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who worked to salvage the debate, will appear there.

The presidential hopefuls who qualified for the debate and threatened to skip it are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and billionaire activist Tom Steyer.

Democratic candidates have courted organized labor, a key constituency for the party, as they look for an edge in a jammed primary field. UNITE HERE has a major presence in Nevada, one of the key early nominating states, and hosted Biden, Sanders and Warren for town halls in Las Vegas last week.

UNITE HERE 11 represents about 150 food service workers at Loyola Marymount.

The debate, hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico, will start at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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