Working Washington is a statewide workers organization that fights to raise wages, improve labor standards, and change the conversation about wealth, inequality, and the value of work.
WE LAUNCHED THE FAST FOOD STRIKES THAT SPARKED THE FIGHT FOR $15 IN SEATTLE; we organized airport workers who helped pass $15 in SeaTac; we led the effort to win secure scheduling for Seattle coffee, food, and retail workers; and we continue to fight for workers rights in Seattle, Yakima, South King County, and across the state.
Working Washington uses innovative organizing strategies, creative mobilizations, and visually engaging actions to bring worker voices to the center of public debate. Since our founding in 2011, we have been at the forefront of struggles in Washington State to build power for low-wage workers, transform the conversation about how our economy works, and break the cycle of political domination by corporations and the ultra-wealthy.
Timeline of Key Events
- April 2011: Massive months-long canvas knocks on more than 100,000 doors, reaching thousands of people struggling in the Great Recession.
- August 18, 2011: Hundreds join a Depression-style soup line outside Congressman Dave Reichert's office on Mercer Island to demand action to address unemployment.
- September 13, 2011: Satirical agendas distributed at national ports convention to bring attention to the Port of Seattle's lack of action on jobs and the environment.
- September 21, 2011: Protest calling for big banks to be held accountable for sinking the economy culminates in several arrests outside local headquarters of Chase Bank.
- October 10, 2011: Major rally of labor and community support for the message of Occupy Seattle.
- November 17, 2011: Massive demonstration for Jobs Not Cuts blocks University Bridge.
- February 2012: Weeks-long work stoppage by port truck drivers grinds container traffic to a halt and wins attention to drivers' poverty wages and safety concerns.
- April 3, 2012: Online activists flood Amazon pie-cutter product page with satirical reviews highlighting the company's failure to pay its fair share of taxes.
- April 28, 2012: 1000 workers & supporters march through SeaTac, calling for Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle to make every airport job a good job.
- May 10, 2012: Amazon warehouse workers bring their stories of poor treatment directly to South Lake Union corporate headquarters.
- May 24, 2012: While hundreds rally outside their shareholder meeting, Amazon announces plans to invest millions of dollars to improve warehouse conditions and end participation in ALEC, the notorious right-wing lobby shop.
- Summer - Fall 2012: Protests at local big-dollar fundraisers for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Rob McKenna.
- April 2013: Low-wage Sea-Tac Airport workers announce formal complaints against contractors & Alaska Airlines over unsafe & unsanitary conditions at our airport.
- May 30, 2013: Hundreds of Seattle fast food workers join call to "strike poverty" with $15 wage & the right to organize without retaliation.
- July 2013: SeaTac Proposition 1 qualifies for ballot; written to provide $15 minimum wage, sick leave, and other labor standards for thousands of travel & tourism workers.
- August 1, 2013: Eight fast food workers and supporters arrested in Seattle for civil disobedience over wage theft and low pay.
- August 29, 2013: Seattle fast food workers join nationwide strikes, prompting front-page story on how low-wage workers have become the hot issue in local politics.
- November 5, 2013: SeaTac Proposition 1 is voted into law — the first time a $15 wage is tested at the ballot box.
- December 5, 2013: Day-long march in bitter cold brings $15 minimum wage from SeaTac to Seattle City Hall.
- February 20, 2014: Fast food workers ask Seattle to Boycott McPoverty with a 1-day citywide boycott of the big burger chains.
- April 22, 2014: Hundreds surround City Hall in support of $15 for Seattle
- May 15, 2014: Low-wage workers join global fast food strikes.
- June 2, 2014: Seattle City Council passes first citywide $15 minimum wage law — almost exactly a year after the first Seattle fast food strikes.
- July 25, 2014: Sea-Tac wheelchair agents and other passengers services workers who serve Alaska Airlines customers vote to form a union.
- September 10, 2014: Fast food movement spreads to Bellevue; eight workers from across the state arrested in civil disobedience.
- November 19, 2014: Fed up with repeated efforts by Alaska Airlines to rob workers of the $15 minimum wage, four arrested in civil disobedience outside Alaska Airlines Corporate HQ, including airport worker Socrates Bravo and City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.
- December 4, 2014: Fast food workers in Bellevue, Aberdeen, Kent, and Olympia join nationwide strikes for $15 & the right to organize and then rally with homecare workers, airport workers, and others at the State Capitol.
February 26, 2015: Rep Matt Manweller goes on a rant on minimum wage workers — and his constituents respond.
March 12, 2015: "It's the wages": Olympia workers launch campaign for $15 citywide minimum wage.
April 1, 2015: Seattle minimum wage increases to $11 for most workers, the first step in the phase-in to $15. We worked with Code for Seattle volunteers to create the What's My Wage app to help people navigate the minimum wage law.
April 15, 2015: Movement expands to new industries and goes statewide, with fast food workers, retail workers, homecare workers, Uber drivers, and adjunct professors taking action in Spokane, Pasco, Yakima, SeaTac, Olympia, Federal Way, and beyond.
June 3, 2015: Some business owners made chicken little predictions about Seattle winning $15. But a year after the $15 law passed many of these same people are expanding, job growth is high, and the sky remains aloft.
July 27, 2015: We made a splash by exposing the big money pouring into Seattle City Council elections — and the interest behind it. More than 30,000 people visited Run For the Money during the 2015 election cycle. Over $670,000 was spent by business groups in the Seattle City Council election.
September 2, 2015: Fight for $15 spreads to Yakima. Fast food, packing house, and other low-wage workers launch a campaign for higher wages in the Yakima Valley.
October 26, 2015: Olympia City Councilmember Jim Cooper introduced legislation that includes a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, and other worker rights for people working in Olympia.
October 29, 2015: We asked the candidates for Seattle City Council to compete for our votes with videos, apartment-hunting exercises, and more — and we put all their responses into our Work the Vote voters guide.
November 10, 2015: Workers across the state declared “It’s Our Time” with rallies and marches from Spokane to Seattle, Yakima to Federal Way, and Tacoma to Olympia. We livestreamed it on WorkingWa.org where over 5000 viewers watched.
December 14, 2015: Seattle City Council passes legislation allowing drivers to negotiate with Uber, Lyft, taxi and for-hire companies — a nationwide first.
January 1, 2016: Fast food workers saw their wages rise to $13 an hour. They get to $15 on January 1, 2017.
- February 4, 2016: Coffee and fast food workers explain the need for secure scheduling legislation at a worker panel, attended by journalists and Seattle City Councilmembers Gonzalez & Herbold, hosted by Working Washington Executive Director Sejal Parikh. Workers asked the councilmembers what they would do to support workers’ efforts to get secure scheduling passed.
- March 23, 2016: Starbucks annual shareholder meeting is “rescheduled” on short notice in a media stunt drawing attention to the issue of unstable, insecure schedules for baristas. At the meeting, Starbucks barista Darrion Sjoquist asks CEO Howard Schultz what he plans to do to address scheduling issues.
- April 14, 2016: As part of a national day of action, baristas, grocery store workers, homecare workers, fast food workers, nursing home workers, janitors, adjunct professors, student workers, and other workers come together to “Raise the Alarm” about threats to workers rights. The day culminates with a rally for secure scheduling outside a downtown Seattle Starbucks.
- June 16, 2016: Workers join local art & political personalities David Schmader, Hanna Brooks Olsen, and Paul Constant for a secure scheduling story slam featuring true stories of insecure and unpredictable schedules. (Picture an episode of The Moth mashed up with a City Council hearing and add a dash of a traveling carnival.)
- July 22, 2016: It’s official: after Working Washington helps the Raise Up Washington campaign gather more than 300,000 signatures, Initiative 1433 officially qualifies for the November ballot. I-1433 will raise the statewide minimum wage $13.50/hour over four years and provide up to 7 days of paid sick and safe time.
- September 19, 2016: Seattle workers make labor history (again!) as Seattle City Council unanimously passes the secure scheduling ordinance introduced by Mayor Murray, Councilmember Herbold, and Councilmember Gonzalez. Effective July 1, 2017, the groundbreaking new law will ensure people who work for large coffee, retail, and food companies get the right to input into their schedules, two weeks’ advance notice, predictability pay when schedules are changed, a right to rest, and access to additional hours.
- November 8, 2016: Washington voters cast their ballots by nearly 60% to pass Initiative 1433, raising the statewide minimum wage to $13.50/hour by January 1, 2020 and providing paid sick and safe to workers in our state. The minimum wage and paid sick days initiative won a far greater share of the vote than the either candidate for Governor or President.
- January 1, 2017: The first group of Seattle workers reach $15/hour. As the city’s law phases in, different sets of workers have different minimums of $15.00, $13.50, $13.00, and $11.00/hour, depending on the size of the employer and other factors. The state minimum wage also increases today to $11/hour, the first of four increases provided by Initiative 1433.
- February 14, 2017: After a months-long national campaign, anti-minimum wage fast food CEO Andy Puzder is forced to withdraw his nomination to be the next Secretary of Labor. It’s the first & most prominent public setback for a Trump cabinet nominee.
March 21, 2017: Every local news outlet is there at Starbucks corporate headquarters to watch baristas Jess Svabinek from Gig Harbor and Kristen Piccolo from Ohio deliver 80,000 petitions to corporate headquarters in protest of a corporate paid family leave program that provides store employees far less than corporate employees would get. Baristas speak out at the next day’s annual shareholder meeting too as local support for paid family leave grows.
April 15, 2017: We launched an online campaign to expose misleading minimum wage surcharges that some companies have been adding to their receipts in an apparent effect to make a political point about the minimum wage. More than 20,000 people across the state have checked out our list and dozens have shared their own reports.
June 22, 2017: Workers in the Yakima Valley kicked off a statewide series of health & safety trainings aimed at ensuring workers can analyze safety conditions at work and know what they can to enforce their right to a safe workplace.
June 30, 2017: After dozens of workers shared their stories about the importance of paid family leave, and thousands added their voice in support, the Washington State Legislature passed a landmark paid family leave program that will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member's serious medical condition, and up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for your own serious medical condition. The law takes full effect on January 1, 2020.
July 1, 2017: Seattle’s secure scheduling takes effect. Tens of thousands of fast food, coffee, and retail workers now have a right to know when they’re going to work, how many hours they’re going to get, and more.
Contact Sage Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Working Washington regularly earns local, national, and international media attention, including coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Salon, The Nation, The American Prospect, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, BBC News, Radio Canada (French-language), Der Spiegel (Germany), Netherlands Public Broadcasting, the Korean Broadcast Service and other outlets