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Dec 11, 2015 2:11 PM

DNC drops WMUR as sponsor and participant in next Saturday's Democratic presidential debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In response to problems with union negotiations, WMUR-TV has been dropped as a co-sponsor and participant in the Democratic presidential debate planned for a week from Saturday.

Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley issued a joint statement Friday.

"Regrettably, as a result of WMUR's unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate, and their talent will not be participating in any way," it reads, in part.

"The right for workers to form and organize a union is a key principle of the Democratic Party, and is key to ensuring the economic safety of the American people by protecting their rights and benefits. It is the right to organize that made it possible for the middle class in America to grow over the past century, and it is as important today as it has ever been to keep our economic growth as a nation moving forward. We remain confident in our strong partnership with the ABC network and know that our Democratic candidates will have a robust debate, with a focus on the issues that matter most to hard working Americans across the country," the statement continues.

WMUR's General Manager Jeff Barlett also issued a statement in response.

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed that the efforts of the 140 WMUR employees in helping organize this debate will now be undone. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to cover the debate, and the candidates and campaigns. As for the negotiations with this particular union, we will continue with the policy we’ve followed with the many prior union negotiations we’ve successfully concluded – to negotiate in good faith, and directly and not through third parties. To that end, we have a mutually agreed-upon date for another meeting, which has been scheduled and confirmed for some two weeks now," Bartlett said.

The union employees, however, said they appreciate the DNC's actions.

"We're grateful for the support we've gotten from the DNC and from the candidates themselves. We hope this puts us one step further towards a fair resolution of the issue," said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer.

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