Our Turn: Sununu hasn’t supported state’s working people

Published: 9/2/2019 8:00:09 AM

On this Labor Day, with all the political speeches about standing up for working people and working families, we must recognize that actions speak much louder than words.

Here in New Hampshire, it was on Labor Day, in 2015, that Chris Sununu announced his candidacy for governor. This past spring, he announced he now wants a third term in office, to be governor through 2022.

Let’s take a look at his track record over the years. As governor, Chris Sununu’s top priority – the only specific priority he stated in first inaugural address – was so-called “right to work,” or the weakening of bargaining rights for better wages and benefits for workers.

Fortunately, a bipartisan majority in the Legislature rejected his top priority. Since then, he has vetoed legislation helping workers and working families, on everything from the minimum wage to job training and apprenticeships to ensuring workers who are laid off get unemployment insurance benefits right away.

Sununu vetoed prevailing wage, which would make our tax dollars work for Granite State workers on state public works projects, leaving New Hampshire the only state in New England without this protection.

Sununu even vetoed paid family and medical leave insurance, which would have helped workers care for a sick loved one or an aging parent or a new child without risking their job. He then auctioned off a copy of his paid family leave veto at a partisan fundraiser to the highest bidder. And when it came time to sign a state budget that provided much-needed property-tax relief for hard-working Granite Staters and small businesses, Sununu also vetoed that, leaving our entire state budget in limbo simply to try to get even more tax breaks for big, out-of-state corporations.

Sununu has now vetoed 53 pieces of legislation this year, more than triple the previous single-year record of 15 vetoes. Most of the legislation had bipartisan support. All too often the target of Sununu’s record-setting vetoes has been efforts to help working people and working families. And all too often Sununu has tried to pit business leaders against workers, even where the interests of both could align and a collaborative approach could’ve made a real difference.

This track record speaks for itself. As governor, Chris Sununu just hasn’t stood with the working people and working families of New Hampshire. On this Labor Day, the day Sununu proclaimed, years ago, that he’d stand with New Hampshire workers, we now know he’s much different. His actions speak for themselves.

To make progress for working people and working families struggling to get ahead and stay ahead, it’s time for a change.

(Glenn Brackett is the president of the NH AFL-CIO. Dan Feltes is the Senate majority leader.)

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