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Push to hike minimum wage for fast-food workers comes to NH

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 05. 2016 8:52PM

MANCHESTER — A national movement calling for higher wages at fast-food restaurants comes to the Granite State today, hoping to gain support during the final push before the New Hampshire primary.

The “Fight for $15” calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and allowing fast-food workers the right to unionize. The movement arrives in New Hampshire the same day Republican candidates are scheduled for their final debate before Tuesday’s presidential primary. “It’s about people getting out of poverty. Politicians are going to have to choose their side on this,” said Kendall Fells, Fight for $15’s national organizing director.

“People need more money in their pockets. They’re trying to get out of poverty. They’re trying to feed their kids, trying to have a job where they have some stability. And that’s what this movement is all about.”

The movement has staged similar one-day “strikes” around other political debates, most recently Jan. 28 in Des Moines, Iowa. Now that the caucuses are done, Fells said it was time to take the fight to New Hampshire, where a bill calling for a $12 minimum wage was voted down by members of the state Senate on Thursday.

New Hampshire currently uses the current federal minimum wage of $7.25. Opponents of raising the rate say market forces have already raised wages, and that requiring additional increases will bankrupt some small businesses. Fells estimated that hundreds of fast-food workers would gather outside the Hanover Street McDonald’s at 2 p.m. today, then set up later outside the debate at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

Although the movement has received more support from Democratic presidential candidates, Fells said the fight is nonpartisan.

Tyler Tufts, a 32-year-old single mother from Nashua, signed on to take part after organizers stopped by the Subway where she works last week. Making $8 an hour with three boys at home, Tufts said she was interested immediately.

“It doesn’t get me very far, that’s for sure,” she said.

Tufts said at least one coworker and a handful of friends she has spoken to are also planning to join, although Tufts isn’t scheduled to work Saturday so she won’t really be on strike. Still, she said the point remains the same.

“It’s hard to survive on $8 an hour,” she said. “We’re hoping that this will make a difference and that they’ll finally be able to see that all of these people are going to start standing together until we can get what we feel we deserve as hard working employees.”

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