Thursday at noon Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien will host a discussion in Council Chambers centering on issues facing fast food workers in the city, including the need for a livable wage, wage theft and health and safety concerns. The discussion comes on the heels of the May 30 fast food strike, in which fast food employees across Seattle walked off the job and joined the picket lines in an attempt to draw attention to the difficulties faced by low-wage workers. Specifically, the striking fast food workers began a conversation asking for $15 an hour minimum wage- a request that will no doubt be heavily discussed during today’s meeting.
On his blog, Licata describes the meeting as such: “This discussion is intended to continue exploring the growth of poverty-wage jobs and hear from fast food workers and policy experts about a range of workplace issues including illegally withholding wages, or “wage theft”, health and safety concerns, and threats of retaliation by managers for union organizing. We’ll hear from both workers and policy experts from the National Employment Law Project on conditions facing workers and what the industry trends might mean for Seattle.”
Not surprisingly, a spokesperson for Socialist city council candidate Kshama Sawant says she’ll be in attendance this afternoon, taking a stand for the rights of low wage workers. As Seattle Weekly’s Dan Person has pointed out, Sawant is a rarity in the local political scene, willing to actually stand behind the idea of a $15 minimum wage, as opposed to simply rallying behind the vague idea of a “livable wage.”
“It’s one thing to give lip service and do political posturing on which way the wind is blowing,” Sawant told Seattle Weekly in early June. “It’s another to say I won’t take corporate contributions and support a $15 minimum wage. It’s like drawing a line in the sand, saying I’m going to fight for this.”