DNC drops debate sponsor over union fight
© Anne Wernikoff

The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that it is ejecting a sponsor from the party's next presidential debate over a labor dispute.

ABC News’s New Hampshire affiliate, WMUR, is no longer participating in the contest Dec. 19 contest in Goffstown, N.H.

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“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,” DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a joint statement with New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.

“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,” their statement continued.

“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 important today as it has ever been to keep our economic growth as a nation moving forward.”

The pair added Friday that the change does not have an impact on the debate’s ties with ABC News, which still plans on airing the contest nationwide.

“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 issues that matter most to hard working Americans today,” Buckley and Wasserman Schultz said.

The New Hampshire Republican State Committee criticized the DNC Friday for picking organized labor over local media.

"For decades, WMUR has established itself as a trusted news source that has made an important impact on New Hampshire that extends well beyond its newscasts," committee Chairwoman Jennifer Horn said in a statement.

"It is unfortunate that Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies would try to impugn the integrity of this respected news organization by forcing WMUR out as a debate sponsor," she continued.

ABC News, the New Hampshire Union Leader and Saint Anselm College remain sponsors.

WMUR is embroiled in a pension dispute with nearly a dozen employees, MSNBC reported Friday.

The outlet is the only network affiliate in New Hampshire and one of just two news stations in the small state.

The station — located in Manchester, N.H. — is also a major recipient of political advertising dollars there, MSNBC added.

MSNBC said Friday that all three major Democratic presidential candidates had urged WMUR to solve the dispute before next week’s debate.

Former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) all penned letters urging the station’s management to find a resolution.

Next week’s debate is the third Democratic bout of the 2016 election cycle and the party’s last event this year.

Updated at 4:40 p.m.