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Seattle fast food workers strike for more money, right to organize


Fast food workers in Seattle continued a series of walkouts Thursday, forcing several restaurants to close down for the day.

The movement, called “Good Jobs Seattle” calls for higher wages for fast food workers. The organization began its protests Wednesday night, forcing a Ballard Taco Bell to close because of a shortage of staffing.

Will Pitts, one of the strike organizers with Good Jobs Washington, tells KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank Show that workers are demanding $15 per hour. He says the median wage for fast food workers currently is $9.50 an hour.

“If you look at this nationally, the number of hours that one of these employees gets per week is 24 hours. So it’s really nowhere near what it takes for one of these workers to really meet their basic needs.”

Pitts says they’ve established that $15 an hour paid for 40 hours of work a week is what someone needs to support their basic needs living in Seattle.

“We think that’s a very reasonable number and something that would really help all these workers support their basic needs and help the entire economy get moving again.”

Six fast food locations in the Seattle area had to close due to the strikes, Pitts says. A Burger King on Lake City posted a sign letting patrons know they would be closed for the day.

“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,” read the sign.

Pitt thinks the striking demonstrations are raising awareness.

“It’s really exciting to see all the energy today and all of the bravery from the workers who have stepped out,” says Pitts. “We know we need to work together to improve conditions for fast food workers and other low-wage workers. We know it’s not going to happen overnight, but this is building a movement.”

Organizers also picketed at a number of other locations including the Lake City Burger King at 14340 15th Ave NE, the University District Taco del Mar at 1313 NE 42nd St, the Arby’s at 601 S Michigan, and at the Capitol Hill Chipotle, Subway, and Qdoba.

A day’s protests ended with a rally at Seattle’s Denny Park, followed by a march to nearby fast food locations, including McDonald’s.

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