UPDATE: A heavy downpour didn’t stop dozens of protestors from marching through the streets of Capitol Hill Thursday to encourage neighborhood fast food workers to walk off the job for better pay and the right to organize. Although none appeared to have walked out, earlier in the day there were reports of workers leaving their jobs at Jimmy John’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Subway, and other chain restaurants around the city.
The protest lasted for about an hour, backing up some traffic as strikers and organizers marched from Plymouth Pillars Park, up Pike, then up Broadway. The march was peaceful and there was no reported property damage or police presence. The Capitol Hill march was part of a nationwide day of striking among fast food workers.
Carlos Hernandez, 21, walked off his job at the Broadway Subway earlier in the day. Donning his Subway uniform, Hernandez marched in the afternoon rally and urged his coworker to walk out when the protest reached the Broadway Subway.
“It’s always the same thing in fast food, people are working for eight years and only get a 15 cent raise,” said Hernandez, who also works at the Capitol Hill Chipotle and is a student at Seattle Central Community College. “This is about treating people in the company right.”
“I’m all for worker solidarity … but who does like their job?” Durbin told CHS. “If I walk out I would throw (my coworkers) under the bus.”
The march started with a scheduled 4 PM rally at the Plymouth Pillars Park at Pike and Boren. More 100 people gathered there, including striking fast food workers, union organizers, and a handful of politicians (including Mayor Mike McGinn). Protestors came from as far away as Portland and Tacoma.
Among the chief rallying cries was for Seattle to institute a $15 minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage is the cornerstone issue in Kshama Sawant’s campaign to unseat city councilman Richard Conlin in this year’s election. Sawant spoke at the rally and joined the march.
Benjamin Roberts, 24, was the only barista working at Victrola when the protestors entered the Pike St. coffee shop to ask him to walk out.
“I support what they’re doing, I would do it if I could have planned for it,” he said. “I would’ve had to shut the whole place down.”
First report: Seattle fast food workers joined others nationwide in walking off their jobs this rainy morning to fight for better wages and the right to organize. Many of the scheduled walkouts were concentrated downtown. Most Capitol Hill chain restaurants and coffee shops appeared to be operating as usual this morning, including the Broadway Subway
and Qdoba that was the site of large protests in May.
Organizers plan to hold a 4 PM rally today at the Plymouth Pillars Park at Pike and Boren. Sage Wilson of Good Jobs Seattle tells CHS those gathered will fan out from the park for more protests at nearby fast food locations. Stay tuned for more.
While no walk outs were reported on the Hill, strike organizers say two employees walked out of the First Hill Jimmy John’s on Madison this morning.
— POC4Progress (@POC4Progress) August 29, 2013
Seattle Police were called to the new Starbucks at Pike and Broadway earlier this morning because there were reports of three people “yelling, throwing around coffee.” CHS found no commotion or signs of strikers a short time later. On Tuesday The Stranger reported on a downtown Starbuck’s barista that had been fired because he ate an uneaten sandwich that was thrown away.The walkouts appear to be targeted at chain restaurants and not the independent and local food/drink establishments around the Hill.
While some of the walkouts and protests were scheduled, including a 7 AM rally in Westlake Park, a handful of other walkouts appear to be more spontaneous as organizers make their rounds throughout the city today. Follow #829strike and #strikepoverty if you want to stay abreast of the action.
Lyft meeting on Capitol Hill
There’s a labor movement of a different type also underway on the Hill tonight. A “community meeting” for drivers and passengers is being held at Boylston Ave E’s Fred Wildlife Refuge starting at 5:30 PM.
Alternatives to traditional taxis and town car services have come under pressure as the Seattle City Council looks at increased regulation in the space. The Seattle Weekly says Thursday night’s gathering is a pre-rally of sorts before the issues comes before the Council again on Tuesday.
Lyft, which bills itself as “peer-to-peer transportation,” allows freelance-style drivers to sign up to provide rides to passengers in exchange for donations calculated by the Lyft app.