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DNC pulls debate from UCLA over labor dispute

Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 06, 2019

The Democratic National Committee will no longer host its sixth debate at the University of California, Los Angeles, due to a labor dispute between the university and a local union, according to an email the DNC sent to the Democratic candidates.

"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," Mary Beth Cahill, the DNC aide in charge of debates, wrote in an email to the Democratic primary campaigns. "We will be in touch with more information when it is available."

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 3299 had asked Democratic presidential campaigns not to cross its boycott and refuse to appear at any University of California campuses.

The union is calling for the boycott over "ongoing labor disputes over outsourcing, income inequality and alleged illegal labor practices," according to the group.

"The University of California has used intimidation tactics to keep workers from protesting over outsourcing and income inequality instead of negotiating in good faith," union President Kathryn Lybarger said in April when the boycott was announced . "We do not tolerate bullying. If invited speakers feel the same way, then they'll honor this boycott of UC events."

The December 19 debate is being hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico. News about the move was first reported by HuffPost.

In a statement to CNN, the union cheered the DNC's decision.

"We applaud the decision by the DNC to stand with University of California workers in their fight for fair treatment from California's 3rd largest employer," the union said. "And we are grateful to the candidates and other leaders who have stood with us in solidarity on our picket lines."

UCLA, in contrast, said it would "with regret" step aside from hosting the debate.

"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," the university said. "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."

So far, six candidates have qualified for the Democratic debate in December: former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Democratic candidates, in order to qualify for the debate, need to receive 4% in at least four national or early state polls that meet the DNC's criteria or 6% in two early state polls. These polls must be released between October 16 and December 12.

Candidates also have to have received donations from at least 200,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 800 from at least 20 different states. Like the polling threshold, candidates will have until December 12 to meet the fundraising threshold.