$15 minimum wage campaign targets Seattle fast-food chains

$15 minimum wage campaign targets Seattle fast-food chains »Play Video
Protesters march in front of a McDonald's restaurant on Madison Street.
SEATTLE - Protesters targeted 25 fast-food burger restaurants Thursday in their "boycott McPoverty" campaign for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, urging customers not to patronize chains that pay low wages.

The protesters included workers at local fast-food eateries, and they're hoping that customers of Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy's will get behind their movement.

At one restaurant - a McDonalds on Madison Street - loud protesters filled the sidewalk. They said they chose to kick off their day of protest here because this is the busiest McDonalds in Seattle for breakfast.

The minimum wage in Washington currently is $9.32 an hour, the highest of any state. The group wants the minimum wage increased to $15 an hour.

"We barely have enough for food and stuff. I couldn't imagine having a child," says fast-food worker Jeffrey Johnson. "Some people I work with have three children, some people I work with have six children."

Fast-food worker Jason Harvey says he can't even afford to eat at the restaurant where he works.

"This is about survival. I'm on food stamps, I go to food banks," he says.

Protestors will be in front of fast-food restaurants all over Seattle for the lunch and dinner rushes, too.

They say Thursday's boycott is about more than wages.

"At Burger King and Wendy's, two of the places we are boycotting today, they have reduced the hours of the people who work there to 28 hours a week in order to avoid paying for Obamacare," says Harvey.

But some customers are pushing back. One of them, Lloyd Embry, protested the protest.

"I heard they were doing this demonstration, and I came here because of the demonstration. This thing is ridiculous," Embry says.

He says the $15 movement supported by Kshama Sawant, Seattle's first Socialist council member, will hurt Seattle's economy by driving up prices.

"That idiot they hired as a city councilman, who was teaching economics, clearly doesn't understand economics," he says.

But these workers who are protesting say $15 is a fair wage for what they do.

"Having to put up with rude customers, which is part of the job, but I think we deserve to get paid a little more," says Johnson.

Nationally, there is growing debate over what raising the minimum wage could do to the economy.

Just this week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said raising the minimum wage could cost 500,000 people across the country their jobs. Others argue the raise would bring 1.6 million people out of poverty.

The CBO also acknowledged it's hard to predict just what would happen.