National Fast-Food Strike Hits Seattle
A closed Lake City Burger King is back open as a rolling fast-food worker strike spreads across the city.
Fast-food workers across the city have been walking off the job since last night as part of a "Strike for Poverty"; their demands include a "living wage" of $15 an hour, compared to Washington state's minimum of $9.19 an hour)
The sign posted by management at the Lake City Way Burger King, where workers have joined the citywide fast-food strike to protest low wages seemed oddly sympathetic (or was it venomous sarcasm?)
Using the strikers' own language, the sign, captured on KOMO TV's website, read: "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"
We called over to the Lake City Way Burger King to see what was up.
The manager who picked up, though, didn't sound sympathetic to the workers' cause, telling PubliCola they were open and said there was no sign up on the door. (A KOMO photographer confirms that they were at the Burger King and snapped the picture this morning.)
Service Employees International Union 775 president David Rolf says the Lake City Burger King was shut down this morning but may have reopened. Rolf says the strike has expanded to eight stores, including four downtown Subways, the downtown Chipotle, the Lake City Burger King, a Taco Bell in Ballard, and a Taco del Mar in the University District, with "more expected at 11:30" on Capitol Hill.
"They are minimum-wage (or close to it) workers who work for brands that are large, multi-national, highly profitable, and have hardly been stingy with CEO pay or shareholder dividends. Increasingly, workers have seen their hours docked as employers seek to avoid paying benefits in the run-up to Obamacare implementation," Rolf says. "What’s more, these brands are now the equivalent of what GM, Ford, and Chrysler were 50 years ago – collectively the largest employers in the country."
None of the workers are unionized; Rolf says that in addition to $15 an hour, they're demanding "no retaliation for organizing."
Mayor Mike McGinn told PubliCola, "Seattle believes in shared prosperity for all of our workers, including those in the fast food industry. Too many of them are being left behind even as Seattle's economy thrives. I support their organizing effort because our neighbors who work these jobs deserve to earn a living wage that can support their families and help them join a strong middle class."
He says a franchisee who owns six or seven Subways has threatened to fire his workers for striking. PubliCola called the franchisee, who was not available for comment.