“Supersize my pay!” Fast food workers on strike around Seattle

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Elena Perez of the UFCW 21 Making Change at Walmart campaign joins the fast food workers picket at the Georgetown Arby's. (Photo by Reagan Jackson)

If you tried to make a run for the border last night in Ballard you might have been disappointed.

Taco Bell was closed, along with a number of other fast food restaurants around the city as workers walked of the job in a rolling strike that is continuing today.

The strike, organized by Good Jobs Seattle, is demanding higher wages for fast food workers. The Lake City Burger King and a Subway on Capitol Hill also closed temporarily for lack of employees, and picketers have targeted Qdoba, Chipotle and Taco Del Mar as well

“They’re done with having poverty wages,” said Reagan Jackson of UFCW 21, who joined the picket lines outside the Georgetown Arby’s earlier today. “They’re requesting that they have a new living wage of $15 [an hour]”

Washington State’s minimum wage is $9.19, the highest in the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average Seattle food service job pays just a hair over the legal limit.

But strikers argue that it’s still not a living wage in a city where rents and food costs are on the rise.

“This is an industry that as a whole pays very low wages,” says Will Pittz of Good Jobs Seattle. “In these big corporate chains, decisions are made at the very top by people who are making a lot of money”

Word is that the action will culminate in a rally at Denny Park at 4:30pm, followed by a march to nearby McDonald’s.

A Ballard Taco Bell employee explains why she joined the strike here.

Seattle Times economy columnist Jon Talton provides some analysis here.

 

Alex is a cofounder and editor of The Seattle Globalist. He's a visual journalist whose work has been published by PBS, The Seattle Times, FRONTLINE/World and the Seattle Weekly.  Alex teaches journalism in the University of Washington's Department of Communication and recently directed the documentary film Barzan.

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