$15 minimum wage protesters, rally, walk out

by: Chris Francis Updated:

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SEATTLE - It was a relatively quick march from where it began at Westlake Park-two stops around the block to a McDonalds, and Target store -- but for most of the 100 plus people involved, it was very personal.

Julia Depape says she's held a steady job for three years at the minimum wage of $9.32 an hour and she's still homeless. 

Through tears she said, “I’ve never had the opportunity to save and I work very hard. I live with friends, pay them what I can.  I can't even get my daughter a new pair of shoes and this is my life and my stability and my independence.”

On Thursday night, those protesters briefly blocked intersections in the heart of downtown and urged fellow workers to step outside in solidarity.

“Walk out, we got your back,” the group yelled outside McDonald’s.

It was the culmination of a long day spent at fast food restaurants and other stores around Seattle. Nick Norman works at Target, where the group made their last stop.  

“I have co-workers on food stamps, on government subsidized housing, we have a few that don't even know if they'll have a home next month.”

Earlier in the day, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sent his proposal to the City Council.  It will phase in $15 an hour over the next three to seven years, but many believe that's too slow and they were asking for signatures during tonight’s rally, to get the issue before voters in November.

Depape explained, “as inflation happens the new $15 will become the new $9.32 if we have to wait.  If it happens fast, we have an opportunity for advancement before inflation rises.”

And some, like Norman say that's worth fighting for even if they lose their jobs, “it's scary to stand up to them.. but we need a voice.”

Those opposed to the $15 increase say it will lead to higher prices and layoffs. In a written statement from the 16 locally owned Mc Donald's in Seattle said in part - "just because one sees the golden arches at our restaurants, they should not believe we have the same resources as our corporate counterparts"

The Seattle City Council will begin debating the mayor’s plan next week. Protesters say they’ll rally again - until $15 becomes a reality.