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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Fast food strikes
May 30, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Fast-food strikes point to problems in economy

Fast-food workers have walked off the job in six cities over the past eight weeks, protesting low pay, poor working conditions, lack of hours and “wage theft.” The action spread to Seattle late last night at a Ballard Taco Bell and will continue today at selected McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco del Mar, Arby’s, Chipotle, Subway, Jack in the Box and Qdoba, among others. A rally is set for 4:30 pm, at Denny Park (100 Dexter Ave N.), followed by a march to nearby fast food locations.

A statement from the organization Good Jobs Seattle said the goal was “to build a sustainable future for Seattle’s economy from the bottom up — by turning poverty-wage jobs in fast-food and other industries into good jobs that offer opportunities for a better future and pay enough for workers to afford basic necessities like food, clothing and rent.” Fast-food businesses offer the lowest-paying non-agricultural jobs in the nation. According to the group, “The median hourly wage for Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food, is $9.50 an hour in the Seattle metro area. That is one of the lowest of any occupation in the region—lower than home health aides ($11.63 an hour), maids and housekeepers ($11.30 an hour) and child care workers ($10.74 an hour). Nationally, the median wage for fast food jobs is $8.78 an hour, lower than all other reported occupations.” Working 24 hours a week, a common threshold, an employee makes wages below the poverty line.

“It’s fast-paced, hard work, but at the minimum wage of $9.19 per hour and only 27 hours per week, I don’t earn enough to make ends meet,” blogged one worker from Ballard. “When I ask for more hours, my boss always says the same thing: hours are competitive – the harder you work, the more hours you’ll get. But I work hard, and I haven’t gotten any more hours.”


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