MANCHESTER — Members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation offered their support to members of the Granite State labor community Monday during the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.
About 300 people filled the gymnasium at St. George Greek Orthodox Church at the annual rally celebrating the accomplishments of unions and organized labor.
Speakers vowed to support labor and urged members of the audience to continue standing together with the 2020 elections only 14 months away.
“The value of unions, as you know, is often maligned and minimized by others, but make no mistake. Unions built the middle class and they will help us rescue the middle class,” said U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democrat from Manchester. “The folks in this room are the backbone of our economy today, but also the backbone of our future.”
Pappas was joined by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan at the event, which for the first time in five years did not include a speech from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders was in the Granite State on Monday, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination with events in Milford, Peterborough and Claremont.
The featured speaker Monday was Shaheen, who received a standing ovation after Glenn Brackett, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, introduced and endorsed her for reelection in 2020.
Shaheen, who does not yet know whom she will face in her campaign for a third term in the Senate, said organized labor was central to the prosperity of the country throughout the 20th century and has been forced to weather attacks through the early part of the 21st.
Unions will also be a key demographic in the 2020 campaign as Democrats attempt to unseat President Donald Trump and possibly regain a majority in the Senate.
“It’s no coincidence that when union membership was at its peak, the share of national income going to the middle class was also at its peak,” said Shaheen, whose speech was interrupted by a lengthy standing ovation.
The Democratic Party was well represented at the breakfast. Other speakers included Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, New Hampshire Senate President Donna Soucy and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who is contemplating a run for governor next year.
Hassan said she still believes in a common vision for the future of the country, which she credited labor for helping build, and urged unity going forward.
“We share a belief that everyone should be free to work hard to succeed, to build a better future,” she said. “Right now that belief is under attack. It is up to all of us to fight for that future and to ensure that more and more of our people are included in it. That fight starts right here with all of us.”