Supporters of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle are staging demonstrations at fast-food restaurants across the city Thursday.
The series of events started at 7:15 in the morning at the McDonald’s restaurant on First Hill. The last scheduled event is slated for 5:15 at the McDonald’s in West Seattle.
Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant joined the activists at the downtown McDonald’s in the afternoon. Sawant has been an outspoken supporter of a $15 minimum wage and is part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee.
At a Wendy’s restaurant on Lake City Way in the morning, supporters chanted: "Seattle's workers under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!"
Alana Monroe works at the restaurant and took part in the picket line. Monroe said she earns $9.35 an hour and needs a pay increase because she's the only breadwinner in her household.
“Most of the check that I do get doesn't go to me. It goes to my mom, my dad and my nephew,” Monroe said. “And also my spouse that I support as well who can't get a job."
Others are skeptical about raising the minimum wage.
Bill Kitchin, who lives in the Lake City area, drove by the Wendy's demonstration and pulled over to talk to the picketers. Kitchin said if the minimum wage jumps to $15, there will be unintended consequences, like layoffs. "It makes me feel angry in one sense, but it also makes me feel sad because it's going to hurt the people they're trying to help,” he said.
However, Kitchin said he would support a slower approach where the minimum wage would rise gradually.
Meanwhile, Seattle officials are currently discussing how a wage hike may be implemented. Activists may also try to get the issue before voters.