As a press release from Good Jobs Seattle puts it this morning, “Strike lines [are] going up at fast food outlets across the city as wave of national unrest hits the West Coast.” Already, according to reports, a Burger King in Lake City has been shut down, and last night a Taco Bell in Ballard was forced to close for two hours. Further employee walk-outs are scheduled at a Taco del Mar in the U-District, and at Capitol Hill locations of Chipotle, Subway and Qdoba.
Oh, the humanity!
The striking workers’ demands are fairly straightforward: They want a “living wage” of $15 an hour and the right to organize without retaliation. Presumably, this right to organize goes beyond smoking out the walk-in freezer.
In all seriousness, while people toiling in poverty is an unquestioned bummer, an unofficial poll of the Seattle Weekly newsroom has concluded the $15 an hour demands are probably a bit steep. For a full-time employee, that’s roughly $31,000 a year before taxes. Then again, we’re probably just bitter because entry-level journalists make far less than that – most paying off the loans they took out to go to college. Of course, preschool teachers, office clerks, social workers, butchers, bakers, tax preparers and most general laborers also make less than $31,000 a year, so entry-level journalists aren’t alone.
There’s no doubt working fast-food sucks ass. The folks who do it should be compensated. Perhaps they should even been compensated more generously than the state’s minimum wage of $9.19 an hour dictates. In times like this, we should applaud homegrown business like Dick’s, which pays employees $10 an hour plus benefits.
But with fast-food workers across the city striking today for $15 an hour, the question becomes: How many Whoppers and Big Macs need to go unserved before the terrorists win?