Ballard Wendy's worker Ryan Parker says fast food workers don't get paid enough and sometimes work in unsanitary conditions. (To view more pictures, click on the photo above or the thumbnails below)
SLIDESHOW: Fast food workers go on strike, demand better treatment
'If I show my face ... I would get fired' for protesting, says Ballard Wendy's worker
When Ballard Wendy's worker Ryan Parker, age 21, decided to go on strike with over 80 others this morning, he did so at the risk of losing his only job.
"If I show my face there (protesting at Wendy's), I was pretty much told I would get fired on the spot," he said. Update: Parker did show up to the noon protest rally at the Ballard Wendy's, but no word if managers stuck to their word. At the least, The Ballard News-Tribune didn't note anyone come out to say anything to him.
Parker still had a cough when he was talking, having just gotten over a bout of pneumonia. He had just one day of sick leave built up -- one hour for every forty hours he works -- and he found that he was quickly losing money. Lucky for him, he had friends who could pitch in with money and food.
But others haven't been so lucky, Parker said. While he has been one of the few to get full time at his work, others haven't been able to. Instead, they have to work two or three jobs just to maintain a household, making barely enough money to feed their baby.
Working 40 hours a week at near minimum wage, Parker still has problems himself. "I still struggle to pay my bills. I still struggle to find food," he said.
On top of that, he said his job can often be unsanitary. When there were dirty needles in the bathroom, the only advice he got was "pick them up and don't get poked."
There were probably countless similar stories among the crowd gathered at Westlake Park at 7 a.m. this morning to strike and demand higher wages. The Westlake demonstration was just one location among over 50 cities that have taken part in the nation-wide, one-day fast food strike. Live video feed at Westlake showed striking workers from Tacoma and Missoula shouting and chanting in support.
On the stage was 21-year-old barista Coulson Loptmann, who gained local fame when The Stranger reported that he was fired for eating a marked out, still wrapped sandwich from the trash. He hadn't eaten all day on his seven-hour shift.
After the fact, Starbucks did say Loptmann had past performance issues. Missing a shift, which he apologized profusely for. Being late to a couple of shifts. Getting in a disagreement with a coworker. But none of those issues were brought up when he was fired, Loptmann told The Stranger.
In Seattle, where locals bleed caffeine, coffee shops were another target this morning. Workers from Starbucks, Top Pot and Specialty's Coffee all joined in on the picket.
Events are planned throughout the day, including a 10 a.m. walkout at the Ballard Burger King on 14th and Market and a noon walkout at the Ballard Wendy's at 5315 15th Ave NW. For more information, visit http://www.workingwa.org/2013/08/29/breaking-strike-poverty-spreads-taco...
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