Around 40 workers and organizers marched outside the First Hill McDonald’s Thursday morning to demand higher wages for workers, part of a one-day boycott of fast-food burger chains in Seattle.
The boycott was part of Working Washington’s “Boycott McPoverty” campaign to continue to push for a $15 an hour minimum wage in the city. Given Capitol Hill’s dearth of “big burger chains,” the First Hill restaurant was the only one to be targeted in the area.
Joining the boycott line was Kyle Lynch, a full-time worker at the First Hill McDonald’s who told CHS that his $9.32 an hour wage is not enough to support his family. “I have a six-month-old and fiancé I have to support,” he said. “It’s not livable.”
Lynch, 32, said he’s been working in fast food on and off since 2001 and is looking for a different job to support his family.
Around 25 Burger Kings, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s were targeted for boycotts Wednesday. City council member Kshama Sawant, who campaigned strongly on a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle, planned to join an afternoon boycott at a downtown McDondald’s.
Sage Wilson, a spokesperson for the boycott’s organizing group Working Washington, praised the ongoing efforts of mayor Ed Murray to push for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle
“The mayor’s coalition is a great step forward, but if we let the pressure die down we won’t get what we want,” Wilson said.
Managers at the McDonald’s declined to comment on the boycott and referred us to a McDonald’s PR firm.
While local media hovered around protestors outside, Carey Christian bought his usual morning coffee inside the McDonald’s. Christian said he thinks large, multinational corporations like McDonald’s should pay higher wages, but he was concerned how a $15 an hour wage would hurt more local businesses. “I would’ve went to Starbucks, but it’s only $1 here and it’s all I had,” he said.
To vet those concerns of local businesses, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce held a “Income Inequality Members Only Discussion” on Monday at Elliott Bay Book Company as an “opportunity for questions and answers, feedback from members and discussion at the event.” The discussion kicked off a week of minimum-wage focused events that included a visit by Sen. Patty Murray to Capitol Hill and mayor Murray’s State of the City address. Recent polling showed that 71% of Capitol Hill-area voters support a $15/hour minimum.
Here’s a map of the restaurants on Thursday’s boycott list: