“On the Edge”, a one-of-a-kind poverty-wage arts & culture event, in Seattle May 2nd

Poverty-wage storytellers and collective artmaking blend the political spirit of May  Day with the artistic expression of First Thursday

Mash-up May Day and an art walk, and you get something like "On the Edge: A Poverty-wage Story Slam", coming to Pioneer Square on May 2nd (First Thursday) for one night only. This unique event mixes storytelling, visual arts, audience participation, and some unsettling facts about our economy in order to highlight real stories from the real lives of poverty-wage workers who are rising up from the edge of our economy to demand good jobs and new opportunities for a better future.

On the Edge will feature poverty-wage storytellers like:

  • Pancho, a 50-year-old who has been working in poverty-wage retail and fast food jobs most of the last decade. Despite working odd hours and being promised raises, Pancho has only seen his pay rate increase from $9.04/hr to $9.19/hr in the two years he's worked at the same burger chain outlet. He gets about 28 hours a week, and lives with his 25-year-old son in North Seattle.
  • Spencer, an airport worker who loads and unloads baggage for Alaska Airlines passengers at Sea-Tac Airport. Spencer is getting married in a few months, and he's worried about how his new family will be able to pay for health insurance or plan for their future when he is paid so little for his work. He and his co-workers recently told their bosses that they're forming a union.
  • Darryl, a home care provider who lives in Kent. Daryl is paid astonishingly little for his valuable work caring for people in their homes, so every month, he's left having to choose which bills to pay. He just wants a paycheck that lets him do the work he cares about, keep up on his bills, and maybe even be able to afford to do something fun every once in a while.

Pancho, Spencer, and Darryl will be joined by other local poverty-wage workers from industries like home care, food service, retail, and airport services — which are among the fastest-growing jobs around, and also the lowest paid.

Who: Pancho, Spencer, Darryl, and other workers from retail, fast food, home care, and other poverty-wage industries, hosted by noted independent journalist Sarah Jaffe, a leading writer and commentator on social movements and low-wage work.

What:  Real workers tell real stories from their real experience of living “on the edge” as part of our fast-growing poverty-wage workforce. The event will also include collective visual arts-making and boisterous audience participation, both inside the venue and out on the street.

When: Thursday, May 2nd, the First Thursday immediately following May Day. Doors open at 5:45 pm. Story slam begins at 6:00 pm. The event is free & open to the public, but space is limited. You can reserve a seat by filling out our online form.

Where: Doc Maynard’s in Pioneer Square. 610 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.

From airport workers here at Sea-Tac to fast food workers in New York to Walmart workers across the country — in the past 6 months, unrest among poverty-wage workers on the edge of our economy has reached an intensity that hasn't been seen in decades.

These are their stories.


Contact: Sage Wilson, Working Washington, sage@workingwa.org