Luke Bridges, a restaurant worker in Olympia, explained why he was for $15 and workers’ rights.
“We are here to get a $15 minimum wage here in Olympia,” he said. “It’s a reasonable ask. It’s not money that’s going to be going into stocks and bonds and yachts either. It’s money that’s going to go directly back to our economy, to local businesses. $15 is a living wage.”
Liz Atkins-Pattenson, who works at Olive Garden, told the crowd why she was going to make $15 happen in Olympia.
“It makes sense for the community,” she said. “We’re are asking for workers to be able to live.”
Malcolm Cooper-Suggs, a leader in the fight for $15, MC’d the kickoff. “I don’t do speeches you guys,” he said. “I usually just do it off the top.”
Malcolm spoke to the crowd of Olympia workers and community supporters who had gathered in Sylvester Park to launch their citywide campaign for $15 with a march to City Hall.
“Workers in Olympia went out on strike for $15 on December 4th,” he said. “and today workers in Olympia are making it official. We are going on a march.”
Workers in Olympia followed behind a giant, hand painted banner down Capitol Way to City Hall.
Sharon Kitchel is a homecare worker. She took the microphone and talked in front of City Hall.
“I live right here in Olympia,” she said. “I’m 72 years old and I’m still working. I don’t see retirement. I had to for the first time in my life sign up for food stamps.”
She paused, her voice slipping and looked at the crowd.
“Taking care of people is what I do,” she said. “It’s what I’ve done my whole life and we deserve better. We deserve to have a living wage. We’re taking it one city at a time and Olympia is next! I support the $15 for Olympia!”
Olympia needs $15 an hour and workers’ rights. 33% of Olympia’s workers are paid less than $15/hour, according to an analysis of Census data.
Half of the population of Olympia are renters, and median rent in Olympia is $904/month. It takes a full-time job paying $17.38/hour to afford that rent level at standard affordability calculations.
$15 in SeaTac and Seattle was just the beginning. Now Olympia workers will make it happen in Olympia.