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Listen to Dori Monson weekdays at 12noon on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

Dori Monson

Fast Food work isn't meant to support a family

Striking fast food workers picket a Burger King in Seattle demanding higher wages. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

Dori thinks that working hard in any field is noble, but fast food workers that want $15 an hour need to find a better job - not protest.

On Thursday fast food workers' walk-outs as part of the "Good Jobs Seattle" movement caused several Seattle-area restaurants to close.

Washington is near the top for minimum wage in the nation at $9.19 an hour, and the median pay for fast food workers is $9.50. But activist Will Pittz, of the Washington Community Action Network, says they deserve a higher "living wage" that's enough to support families. He says $15 an hour would do that.

"This is the fastest-growing sector of our economy - is low-wage service jobs, food and retail industries. And these people are not getting paid enough to meet their basic needs like food, clothing, and rent," said Will.

But Dori says fast food and other unskilled jobs are entry-level positions for people without better skills that aren't designed to support families for a lifetime; they're a means to an end.

Growing up on the mean streets of Ballard, Dori had to work more than one minimum wage job at a time. Some jobs paid him even less than minimum wage. But he worked hard to pay his way through community college and, eventually, the University of Washington.

"There are some people who are innocent victims in life and there are some people who are happy accident on the upside: you know, born rich," said Dori. "But for the vast majority of people, their life is the sum total of the decisions they make."

Fast food workers might have a grueling job, but because so many people can do it, workers make at or around minimum wage. In contrast, machinists and technicians have specialized training that helps them command a higher salary.

Dori thinks the protesters and activists are setting a bad example by saying they "deserve" to be paid more.

"What I want you to see here in Seattle this morning is the future of America: there are a lot of people who want without giving. They don't want to give up their time or energy to plot a career course of acquire a college degree, or make great decisions to get into an apprenticeship program," said Dori.

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