2020 candidates attend AFSCME forum on public service

Watch the AFSCME forum with 19 Democratic presidential candidates, moderated by HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel and The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston, at HuffPost.com on Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific.

About 800,000 workers found themselves thrust into economic uncertainty at the end of 2018, when politicians in Washington couldn’t come to an agreement on funding legislation to keep the federal government running. 

Some people kept working, while others were furloughed. All of them, however, wouldn’t get paid until the government reopened. The partial government shutdown ended up lasting 35 days, the longest closure in history and the second one during Donald Trump’s presidency.

At every level of government, public workers increasingly find themselves at the mercy of politicians who use them as political footballs. In many places, they face threats to their pay and benefits, and a crackdown on efforts to unionize, even as they’re expected to keep the country’s infrastructure running so that everyone else ― including massive corporations rewarded with tax cuts and other handouts ― can succeed. 

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July Democratic debate part 2
Democratic debates 2019 Live Updates: Booker interrupted by protesters; Biden tells Harris 'go easy on me kid' (ABC News)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
From left, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stand for the National Anthem as they are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, participates in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Cory Booker Interrupted by Protesters at Democratic Debate
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and former Vice President Joe Biden are introduced before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., shake hands before the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) listens during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) takes the stage at the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US entrepreneur Andrew Yang delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand delivers her opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee delivers his opening statement during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
From left, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A protester yells during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden (R) speak during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JULY 31: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. 20 Democratic presidential candidates were split into two groups of 10 to take part in the debate sponsored by CNN held over two nights at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from California Kamala Harris gestures as she speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester unfurls a banner as Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester leaves the Fox theatre after being escorted out for interrupting the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from Colorado Michael Bennet speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls Governor of Washington Jay Inslee (L) and Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio participate in the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., participate in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopeful Governor of Washington Jay Inslee gestures as he speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden gestures on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. talk after the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee chat during a break in the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential hopefuls US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker (L), US Senator from California Kamala Harris (C) and Former Vice President Joe Biden shake hands after the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (2nd L), and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (2nd R) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (R) greet each other after the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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In other spots, however, there seems to be a growing willingness by politicians to embrace unions and the role of government. In June, the governor of Nevada signed a law giving state workers collective bargaining rights, the largest statewide expansion in 16 years. And the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are openly showing their support for unions and backing worker actions

On Aug. 3, just days after the second round of debates, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will host the 2020 Public Service Forum in Las Vegas. 

At least 19 Democrats running for their party’s 2020 nomination will be attending, including Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Gov. Steve Bullock, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, business leader and philanthropist Tom Steyer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and author Marianne Williamson.

Jon Ralston, the editor of The Nevada Independent, and I will be pressing the candidates on their plans to strengthen protections for working people and the position that unions occupy. We also want to hear specifics from candidates on how they intend to get their ambitious agendas through what could be a divided Congress, and their views on the role of government in people’s lives.  

The candidates will also take questions directly from union members in attendance and watching the livestream, which will be running on HuffPost. 

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