NASHUA – Top national and state labor leaders endorsed the New Hampshire slate of Democratic female candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and Congress on Friday, saying they could be counted on to stand strong on issues that matter most to women.

“Women’s issues are the economy. Family is the economy, and every single day, women are struggling in this economy,” national AFL-CIO Secretary- Treasurer Liz Shuler said.

Equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, sick and family leave, access to quality education and preserving workers’ rights to form unions are key issues facing working women today, Shuler said at the Working Women Speak Out event held at the Elks Lodge.

Facing what she and other speakers called a razor-edge race for state and congressional office on Nov. 4, Shuler urged the nearly 70 people gathered to support Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, all Democrats, in their re-election bids.

“The stakes nationally and the stakes locally are huge,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said.

The message resonated with the gathering of current and retired union members, elected officials, political candidates and labor leaders.

As a single mother earning minimum wage, Janice Kelble, of Franklin, said she once had to weigh whether she could afford to bring her son to the doctor to get stitches.

She also recounted training a new male employee at the arts store where she worked for two years, only to learn he was being paid more than her.

“I just want a better world for my granddaughters,” said Kelble, now a retired postal worker.

She said she attended the event to hear what candidates had to say on pay equity and other issues close to her after being invited by the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Kuster, who is running against state Rep. Marilinda Garcia for the 2nd Congressional District seat, said there is a “lot a stake for working women” in this election, in which races are tight.

“This is not just about women. This is our family pocketbook. So we have got to pull together to re-elect our entire team,” said Kuster, adding she supports pay equity, raising the minimum wage and ensuring access to quality education.

Hassan, who is opposed by Republican Walt Havenstein, also attended the event.

Shaheen, who is running against Republican Scott Brown, didn’t attend because she was campaigning with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in northern New Hampshire. Her daughter, Stacey, spoke in her place.

Albina Filippov, of Nashua, said she came to the event after getting a call from a local teachers union representative.

“I want to hear what the candidates are thinking,” said Filippov, who retired last year as a Nashua public school teacher and now is a part-time math teacher at Mount Washington College in Manchester.

“What concerns me the most is teachers are not respected enough,” she said. “No one understands how difficult the conditions are and how hard the teachers are working.”

Filippov said she tends to vote Democratic, but has an open mind about the candidates.

Shea-Porter, who is seeking re-election to the 1st Congressional District seat, wasn’t present. She is being opposed by former Congressman Frank Guinta, a Republican.

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