Advocates of a $15 minimum wage marched from Seattle to Bellevue on Wednesday as part of a day of rallies that culminated with the arrest of eight participating workers in downtown Bellevue.
About 150 fast-food workers and their allies from across the region walked across the Interstate 90 bridge on Lake Washington for the “We Are Rising” rally, the first attempt to expand the effort that began when SeaTac’s minimum hourly wage increased to $15 in January and continued when Seattle passed its own $15 minimum-wage plan in June.
Organizers said the rally was a way to spread the message of workers’ rights and a higher minimum wage to other cities and to show business owners and officials that there will continue to be a demand for a higher wage.
Eight people were arrested at Northeast 10th Street and Bellevue Way Northeast around 6 p.m. Wednesday for failure to disperse, police said. The group included fast-food workers from McDonald’s, Burger King and Jimmy John’s, according to Working Washington, the organization that planned the march and rally.
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The group walked nearly nine miles from Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle across the I-90 bridge to downtown Bellevue. Marchers picketed outside a Jack in the Box, chanting “Supersize my salary” and “We want change and we don’t mean pennies.”
The Seattle City Council’s passage of the minimum-wage plan gave workers confidence to expand the movement, said Philip Locker, spokesman for $15 Now.
“A year ago, people were saying this was a socialist fantasy,” Locker said outside the Jack in the Box at Bellevue Way Southeast and Main Street. “It had an electrifying effect across the country.”
Vicki Neumeier, of Redmond, told marchers that, as a nurse, she often sees people who can’t afford medical care because they aren’t paid enough.
“In the Eastside, there is a stark contrast between the people doing well and the people serving them lunch,” Neumeier said.
The workers and their supporters later marched and picketed outside the Wendy’s restaurant at Northeast 10th Street and Bellevue Way Northeast.
The eight people arrested sat in the middle of the intersection, where they were surrounded by police. They were arrested about 10 minutes after they sat down. Participants cheered as they were led into the police van.
Those eight were given the opportunity to stand up and avoid arrest, but they refused, Bellevue Police Department spokesman Seth Tyler said. The rally ended shortly after the arrests, but organizers said it was the first of many to come.
“We want to spread this to Bellevue and across the state,” Locker said.
Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or firstname.lastname@example.org