“I am thrilled that we were able to reach an agreement, and that the candidate debate can continue as scheduled,” said Angela Fisher, a prep cook at the school, in a Tuesday morning statement released by UNITE HERE Local 11.
The union, representing 150 workers at the school who are employed by Sodexo, had threatened to picket the debate unless they got a new contract with higher wages.
That put the debate at risk, with Democratic candidates unwilling to appear onstage if it meant defying the union. Last week, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted that she would not “cross the union’s picket line even if it means missing the debate,” and the other six candidates with a spot on stage quickly followed suit: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former vice president Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, investor Tom Steyer, and businessman Andrew Yang.
Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, a former labor secretary, intervened to bring the union and Sodexo to the table. According to the union, negotiations on Monday evening produced a contract that would raise pay by one-quarter, cut health-care costs by half and bring “increases to workers’ job security.”
In a separate statement, Perez called the contract a “win-win for everyone,” and said the debate would go forward as scheduled.
“We are the party that lifts up working families and defends the right to organize, and we’re excited to showcase that commitment at our debate,” he said.