Low pay, 'sickening' conditions: Fast food workers appeal to city

SEATTLE - Fast food workers took their fight to City Hall on Thursday. Many of them claim employers aren't doing enough to protect their safety - or their pay.

Now they are issuing a passionate plea - asking the city to step in.

It was the first time Seattle fast food workers discussed concerns on the job face to face with City Council members.

At the top of their priority list is more job security, better working conditions - and for the city to start enforcing its own laws to prevent wage thefts.

"We were nearly every day forced to work off the clock to help labor costs," says one fast food worker. "I think in many ways it's really a matter of enforcing the ordinance."

It's the reason hundreds took their fight to the streets in May.

Right now the median hourly wage for food service workers is $9.50 an hour in the Seattle Metro area. That includes about bout 33,000 people who work in the fast food industry.

One by one workers shared their own realities working in the industry and the challenges they face - some of them very disturbing.

"Almost raw sewage that is pumping up under these floors that people are having to walk through," says one worker. "Deal with raw food, go serve customers - this its really sickening conditions."

In addition to the opportunties to advance and the right to organize without retaliation, workers want their base pay increased to $15 - and they want to be paid for every hour they put in.

"I was paid every week for 27 hours but ended up actually working 32 or more, and I calculated this, and that's a thousand dollars or more that Taco Bell stole from me - and that was money I needed," said one worker.

The groups supporting the workers point to a recent study that says a household of one adult and one child needs $52,000 a year to live modestly - a salary most fast food workers don't make.