Fast food workers striking in Seattle to protest low wages

SEATTLE -- Fast food workers in Seattle started striking Wednesday night, causing at least two restaurants to close so far, in protest of low wages.

Striking workers caused a Ballard Taco Bell to close early Wednesday and night and a Lake City Burger King in the 14300 block of 15th Ave. N.E. was forced to close Thursday morning, organizers of the strikes said.

"Due to all employees walking out for the strike for poverty today. We are understaffed and unable to serve you at this time. Sincerest apologies - management," a sign outside the Lake City Burger King said.

The workers say their wages are stagnant and want a living wage of $15, more opportunities to advance, and the right to organize without retaliation.

"Personally I'm on food stamps, my hours have been cut back," Burger King worker Andrew Thomas said. "Being here for a year and half. I haven't gotten a raise."

Cody Codden has an associate's degree and is preparing to go back to school, but can only find employment at this Burger King.

"You get work where you can find it and you should also keep looking," he said. "I'm looking for a 40 week hour job, I'm trying to go to school, I'm trying to find something better."

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn supported the striking fast food workers with several Twitter tweets.

"I support fast food workers' organizing effort because they deserve a living wage that can support their families. #strikepoverty," one of his tweets read.

"Too many fast food workers are being left behind even as Seattle's economy thrives....Seattle believes in shared prosperity for all of our workers, including those in the fast food industry," other tweets from the mayor said.

More walk-outs are planned throughout the day at Burger King, McDonald's, Subway, Arby's, and other national fast food chains across the city, said organizers who are calling the demand for workers' rights, "Strike Poverty and Raise Seattle."

The median hourly wage for food service workers including fast food workers, is $9.50 an hour in the Seattle metro area, according to
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 33,000 people work in fast food in the Seattle metro area, according to Census figures.

Upcoming walkouts were scheduled at fast food outlets this morning including the University District Taco del Mar, several in the SoDo and Georgetown culminating at an Arby's there and several restaurants on Capitol Hill including Chipotle, Subway and Qdoba. Workers are scheduled to meet at East Pine and Broadway after 11:30 a.m.

At 4:30 p.m. a rally will be held at Denny Park followed by a march to nearby fast food restaurants, including McDonald's.

The strikes are supported by a group called Good Jobs Seattle, which in turn is supported by organizations such as Washington Community Action Network, Working Washington and OneAmerica.

According to organizers, Seattle is now joining strikes by fast food workers in other cities ranging from New York to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Milwaukee.
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