USC is in the running to host a Democratic presidential primary debate after organizers abruptly pulled the event out of UCLA because of a boycott from labor unions.
Scouts from Washington, D.C., were on campus Wednesday in the hours after the news broke checking out possible locations for the Democratic Party’s sixth presidential primary debate. There are active talks between organizers and USC officials hoping to hold the debate on campus, according to a source familiar with the process.
The debate is currently scheduled for Dec. 19, which falls during winter break for USC students. “PBS NewsHour” and Politico are sponsoring the debate and were tasked by the Democratic National Committee to search for a new venue.
The DNC’s decision to find an alternate site comes after a letter sent to six presidential candidates by AFSCME 3299, a University of California employee union that is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The letter asked the DNC to join arms with them in their fight against the university and endorse their three-year boycott of speakers attending events on UC campuses, according to the HuffPost.
UCLA called the actions taken by AFSCME 3299 “unanticipated objections from organized labor,” in a statement released Wednesday. “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.”
The HuffPost reported that the boycott was triggered by the union’s complaints that the UC system was illegally outsourcing the jobs of service and patient care workers, who are represented by AFSCME 3299.
In a statement, AFSCME 3299 told Annenberg Media: “We applaud the decision by the DNC to stand with University of California workers in their fight for fair treatment from California’s third-largest employer. And we are grateful to the candidates and other leaders who have stood with us in solidarity on our picket lines.”
The union hopes that the next president will work to tackle the “inequality and mistreatment of low wage workers.”