Ballard

Fast-food protests expand across Seattle, nation

Fast-food protests expand across Seattle, nation
SEATTLE - An on-going protest by fast-food workers expanded dramatically Thursday as coffee shop workers joined the walkout in Seattle and workers in several other cities joined in across the nation.

It's all part of a nationwide protest for better pay and the right to organize. The workers say they want enough money to pay for rent, housing and clothing.

In Seattle, workers protested outside a Starbucks in the 1100 block of Fourth Avenue, a Specialty's Coffee in the 1000 block of Third Avenue and a Top Pot Coffee in the 700 block of Third Avenue.

Fast-food workers also are planning to gather in Seattle's Westlake Park at 7 a.m. to protest outside a Seattle Subway and Jimmy John's. They're also protesting outside a Wendy's in Ballard.

Local protesters also issued a news release claiming that a Starbucks worker on food stamps was fired for eating an expired sandwich out of the garbage.

Thursday's protests were part of a continuing series in the Seattle area. On Aug. 1, police arrested eight fast food protesters because they were blocking rush hour traffic at Third Avenue and Pine Street in Seattle near a McDonald's restaurant.

Similar rallies are taking place in 35 cities across the nation Thursday. The cities include New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit.

Whether the actions will have any impact on business isn't clear.

In New York, about 300 to 400 protesters marched and flooded inside a McDonald's near the Empire State Building. Shortly after the demonstration, however, the restaurant seemed to be operating normally and a few customers said they hadn't heard of the movement. The same was true at a McDonald's a few blocks away.

Participating workers, who are asking for $15 an hour, still represent a tiny fraction of the industry.

The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour was last raised in 2009.

Despite the protests, Washington state has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.19 an hour.