Fast-food workers walk out during job, demand better pay

May 30, 2013

Workers at fast-food restaurants all over Seattle walked off the job Thursday and rallied outside, taking part in a national movement calling for better wages and the right to organize.

The workers walked out of Taco Bell in Ballard, Burger King in Lake City, Taco Del Mar in the U-District, and Arby’s in Georgetown. During the lunch hour on Broadway, dozens of workers and their supporters waved signs outside an empty Qdoba franchise, demanding a living wage of $15 per hour. 

Cody Cadden works at Burger King, where he earns Washington's minimum wage, $9.19 an hour. But he says he’s capped at 28 hours a week, because his employers don’t want to have to provide health care benefits.

“So with my 28 hours a week, I get $800 a month. And I’m lucky that I live with my parents, so I don’t have to pay rent. And even still, I’m tapped out at the end of the month," he said. 

Cadden says he’s planning to move out in several months, and that means he’ll have to somehow get a second job.

“And I went to college. I have a degree. I’m going back to school. But it’s really hard to find work, you know?” he said. 

In other cities, organizers say workers at some franchises have secured small pay raises and more hours after demonstrating.

The one-day walkouts at fast food chains started in New York in April and have since taken place in Chicago, St Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee and Washington, DC.

The local effort was organized by Good Jobs Seattle, which is backed by several groups including Washington Community Action Network and the Service Workers International Union.

The SEIU is also behind a ballot initiative that would set the minimum wage for airport workers in Seatac at $15 per hour.