June 1, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Seattle, Washington – Workers at Seattle’s largest fast food and retail chains walked off their jobs Thursday May 30, 2013 , calling for $15 an hour and the right to organize free from retaliation. The walkout hit major national chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Arby’s, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell and Subway, It marks the seventh city hit by fast-food strikes since early April.
These activities follow a walkout by federally-contracted workers in Washington, DC, last week, and comes after recent walkout by fast-food workers in Detroit, St. Louis and New York and combined fast-food and retail worker strikes in Chicago and Milwaukee. It also follows a nationwide Black Friday strike by Walmart workers and comes the same week workers for the nation’s largest retailer have walked off their jobs again.
Fast food is a $200 billion a year industry, yet many Seattle service workers earn minimum wage, $9.19 an hour, or just above it, and are forced to rely on public assistance programs to provide for their families and get healthcare for their children. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a single adult in Seattle with one child needs to earn nearly $21 an hour to get by – a far cry from the minimum wage.
Striking fast food workers are working closely with Good Jobs Seattle, a growing movement which seeks to build a sustainable future for Seattle's economy from the bottom up — by turning poverty-wage jobs in fast food and other industries into good jobs that offer opportunities for a better future and pay enough for workers to afford basic necessities like food, clothing and rent. Good Jobs Seattle is supported by many community organizations including the Washington Community Action Network and OneAmerica.