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Pro-labor, minimum wage march through Capitol Hill ends with peaceful arrests

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(Images: Alex Garland)

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Several hundred people peacefully marched from downtown through the streets of Capitol Hill and into a Seattle University building Wednesday afternoon as part of a national day of action to support a $15 an hour minimum wage.

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In Seattle, where a $15 minimum wage is already on the books, demonstrators also coalesced around local labor fights.

To protest the Seattle U administration’s opposition to adjunct faculty forming a union, a group of professors and students sat down in the intersection of 12th and Madison for about 30 minutes before police calmly took them into custody one by one. Organizers from the group Working Washington say 21 people were arrested in all.

Ben Stork, a Seattle U adjunct film studies instructor, said contingent and part-time faculty are responsible for the majority of teaching at the university but have little to no job security semester to semester. Stork was one of the 21 arrested on Capitol Hill.

As demonstrators began to march from Occidental Park to Capitol Hill, several hundred home care workers and activists gathered for a rally in Cal Anderson Park. The two groups met at the park at around 4 PM and marched down 12th Ave to the Seattle U campus.

Demonstrators then filled Seattle U’s Pigott Pavillion atrium, where City Council members Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien addressed the crowd. Both council members called on the Seattle U administration to drop its legal challenges to adjunct professors forming a union. Sawant, who was instrumental in passing the $15 minimum wage law last year, said the crowd had a lot to be proud of.

“Sisters and brothers, you and I are a part of history,” she said.

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11 thoughts on “Pro-labor, minimum wage march through Capitol Hill ends with peaceful arrests

  1. Having walked past the place on my way home today where the charter buses organized labor contracted were parked, one with a sign saying “Yakima”, I was reminded that Washington state is in the cross hairs of what old labor still considers a heretic, breakaway, self serving organization. Having been screwed out of a job I held as a union member by someone on their little lay off list I can speak with authority that all is not rainbows and unicorns with them. So it certainly appears marchers were brought in for show. As for the $15 campaign, workers still can’t afford Seattle rents. So what is the solution really for quality of life? A slight bump in income with organized labor taking a cut and housing you still can’t afford ?

    • Yea… it doesn’t solve everything. Yes, rents (and housing prices) are way too high. Income inequality (fueled by the Bush tax cuts and increased globalization… thanks free trade!) is at record levels. Still..

      The $15 minimum wage hike is huge. A 25% wage hike over 7 years is pretty amazing. Almost no one has got wage hikes in the past decade and the minimum wage has never been raised to aggressively. That it passed unanimously says a lot about the 15 Now campaign.

  2. As for SU, a career in education has always been some sort of version of a medieval culture. How does a small private college that is experiencing a large budget crunch cough up tech worker salaries for adjuncts? The students suffer if so. SEIU could not possibly care less if SU or similar colleges are down to five classes available to students but by gosh the adjuncts will be buying condos on Capitol Hill. Go home purple people eater.

    • “Tech worker salaries for adjuncts” ? That is so far off the mark, I’m not sure if you really believe it or it’s pure hyperbole just meant to confuse people.

      • Yes. I get the feeling that Sawant attends (and sometimes organizes) these events as a campaign mechanism. She certainly is an opportunistic politician.

  3. She has a campaign to run I guess. Though when nationalizing all of the tech companies is part of her platform, I really don’t know how she plans on winning.

  4. This was the most peaceful and respectful protest I’ve seen in Seattle in a long time. Even the bus drivers who had to pull over and just wait it out seemed to be supportive.

  5. Yeah, I was giving my friend a ride to a doctor’s appointment between 12th and 13th on Madison and got caught in this. People (drivers) were surprisingly chill. No honking or screaming. No squealing tires. People calmly turned around, let other drivers in. Maybe it was the beautiful day making everyone so relaxed!

  6. Where they should be marching is down in Olympia or in DC where the GOP who block raising the minimum wage are located not here in Seattle where we have raised it. Stop punishing those who are on your side.