Several dozen people gathered at the State House in Concord Saturday to celebrate workers and immigrants, and push for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
At $7.25 an hour, New Hampshire matches the federal minimum wage. It’s the lowest minimum wage in New England.
Lidia Yen immigrated to the U.S. from South Sudan and works with Change for Concord and the American Friends Service Committee. She said she usually also has two or three other jobs, and works 55 hours a week.
“It’s impossible, literally impossible, for me to work just one job and be able to pay all of my bills so that’s why I have to work that much,” she said.
The NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees sponsored the event. Other groups at the rally included the Granite State Organizing Project, and One Fair Wage – a group that’s pushing to extend the $15 minimum wage to tipped service workers.
Anthony Harris advocates for previously incarcerated people with American Friends Service Committee. He said the state’s minimum wage is another challenge for people who are trying to move forward after prison.
“There’s no way in the world you can feed yourself let alone your kids, your family. It forces a whole group of people to scrounge, to beg borrow and steal, just so they can live,” he said.
Harris and others who spoke at the event said higher wages give workers dignity and more time to devote to their families and community.