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Rolling fast-food strikes hit Seattle as workers seek fair pay

UPDATE (10 a.m., May 30) — @WorkingWA Twitter feed: Two Subway locations, including in Capitol Hill, forced to close due to strike. #strikepoverty

(9 a.m.)  — The Stranger reports: Lake City Burger King has been shut down by the strike.

Working Washington reports that the strike has caused "big lines" at the Burger King in Lake City on Thursday morning.

Working Washington reports that the strike has caused “big lines” at the Burger King in Lake City on Thursday morning.

SEATTLE (May 30, 2013) — It’s hardly business as usual at the city’s fast food outlets today, after a citywide strike was launched late last night when striking workers forced a Ballard Taco Bell to close early. The strike is expanding today to several dozen Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Arby’s, and other national fast food chains across the city, and will culminate in a rally/march this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. at Denny Park (see schedule below).

Uniting under a call to “Strike Poverty — Raise Seattle” with a living wage of $15/hour and the right to organize without retaliation, fast food workers across the city have launched a movement they’re calling “Good Jobs Seattle,” according to Working Washington. The group says fast-food workers are seeking to build a sustainable future for Seattle’s economy by ensuring that fast food chains do what every profitable corporation ought to do: pay workers better than poverty wages and offer them opportunities for a better future.

“I’m sick of seeing my co-workers and me essentially get pushed and pushed and barely be able to eat,” Ballard Taco Bell employee Caroline Durocher told The Nation. “And I think it’s time that we pushed them back.” The Nation reports:

Like recent fast food strikers in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Detroit, the Seattle strikers are holding a one-day walkout to demand a raise to $15 per hour and the right to form a union without intimidation. Like those cities’ strikes, Seattle’s is supported by a coalition of labor and community groups; in each case, the Service Employees International Union has been involved in supporting the organizing efforts. The Seattle campaign, Good Jobs Seattle, is backed by groups including Working Washington, the Washington Community Action Network and OneAmerica.

The Stranger reported last night that the walkout at the Ballard Taco Bell forced the store to close early.

It’s this lack of respect that striking workers are also striving to overcome, both from the public and from their employers. But while unions are supporting their efforts, this isn’t your stereotypical union organizing drive. “It’s not like we’re forming a union, we’re forming a movement,” says Durocher, who credits the example set by Occupy Wall Street for some of the inspiration behind the movement. “I think people saw that people can organize and can have a voice,” says Durocher.

As for what she and her co-workers hope to get out of the movement, Durocher stayed firmly on message: “I hope we get a living wage, and the right to organize without retaliation.” And thus a movement is born.

seattle-fastfood-strike2Working Washington says the rolling strikelines will hit multiple locations throughout the city, including:

6:30 am: Lake City: Burger King, 14340 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125

9:30 am: University District: Taco del Mar, 1313 NE 42nd St, Seattle, WA 98105

10:30 am: SoDo/Georgetown: Strikelines hit multiple fast food outlets in the area. Workers will converge at Arby’s at 601 S Michigan, Seattle, WA 98108

11:30 am: Capitol Hill: Strikelines expand to multiple fast food outlets in Capitol Hill, including Chipotle, Subway, and Qdoba. Workers will converge at East Pine & Broadway.

* And dozens of additional restaurants throughout the city.

Major rally and march where community supporters will join striking fast food workers:

4:30 pm, Denny Park (100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109), followed by a march to nearby fast food locations, including McDonald’s.

For more information, check out Working Washington’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!