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Workers Tell GOP Presidential Candidates, 'Raise the Wage'

Low-wage workers were out in force at the GOP debate in Manchester of Saturday night, demanding a commitment from the candidates to back a $15-an-hour minimum wage. (SEA)
Low-wage workers were out in force at the GOP debate in Manchester of Saturday night, demanding a commitment from the candidates to back a $15-an-hour minimum wage. (SEA)
February 8, 2016

MANCHESTER, N.H. - They unfurled a huge banner that said "Come Get My Vote." Low-wage workers were out in force at Saturday night's GOP debate and, to get their vote, they say candidates need to back a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Tyler Tufts is a 32-year-old single mom who earns $8 an hour working at Subway. She brought two of her children to the rally at the debate Saturday night, because she says she is in the "Fight for 15" for them, so she can finally earn enough to take them out to a movie or dinner, like other kids.

"It's rough, I've got two little ones that live with me," says Tufts. "My paychecks go right to my bills, and it's not fair to them, because I work for them, I work to support them and I can't really do anything with them."

Many of the workers were on strike, having walked off their jobs at local fast food restaurants just hours before the debate. To date, none of the GOP presidential contenders backs a $15-an-hour minimum wage. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders backs $15 an hour while Hillary Clinton supports raising the national minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Tufts says they weren't there just to send a message to candidates, but also fellow citizens in New Hampshire, who she says end up footing the bill when workers aren't paid enough money, so that they can make it through the month on their own.

"Other voters in New Hampshire, a lot of them, complain about people that are on state assistance, but most of the people that are on state assistance are also working," says Tufts. "And if we're able to make more than $7, $8 an hour, and we're able to get this $15 an hour, then we won't need to be on that state assistance."

The "Fight-for-15" is backed by a number of major unions including the Service Employees Association in New Hampshire and its national affiliate, SEIU.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH