Hospitality hearing Tuesday, fast-food boycott on Thursday

SEATTLE (Feb. 18, 2013) — The unprecedented grassroots movement to raise this city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is gaining more steam this week with events and actions designed to expose poverty-wage-paying businesses and the harm they are doing to Seattle communities.

A Workers’ Rights Hearing will be held tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 18) to investigate the state of hospitality and service workers in Seattle. Workers will testify about their experiences in front of a panel of city councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw, academics, and community activists. This event, open to the public, will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Room C5 at the Seattle University School of Law, 901 12th Ave.

“From the multi-year labor dispute at Seattle’s iconic Space Needle, to the new organizing at Seattle Hyatt hotels, hospitality workers are pushing back against the race to the bottom that has become the hallmark of so many service jobs,” according to UNITE HERE Local 8. “Workers from the Space Needle, Hyatt at Olive 8 and others will share their stories with a panel of community leaders, who will respond to their testimony and give recommendations on what is needed to create a sustainable Seattle for all people.”

Meanwhile on Monday, Seattle fast food workers handed out thousands of brown “Boycott McPoverty” lunch bags and asked downtown workers and shoppers to join a citywide big burger boycott this Thursday, Feb. 20 by not eating at McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s that day. And today, they are waving 25-foot-long banners over I-5 to publicize Thursday’s one-day citywide boycott.

The “Boycott McPoverty” effort is the next step in the campaign to win $15 for Seattle, which has the support of 68% of likely voters in the city, according to a recent poll.

“The three big burger chains make billions of dollars by serving billions of burgers to billions of customers — but they still pay their workers poverty wages,” according to Working Washington, which is helping organize Thursday’s boycott. “Higher wages would mean workers could afford to support themselves and pay for basics like food, rent, and transportation. Our economy would benefit, too — because more people making more money means more customers for every business out there.”

In addition to Working Washington, organizations endorsing the call to Boycott McPoverty include Fifteen Now, Good Jobs Seattle, M.L. King County Labor Council, OneAmerica, People’s Institute NW, SEIU 775NW, SEIU 1199NW, Teamsters 117, Tyree Scott Freedom School, and Washington CAN. For more information, visit workingwa.org.

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