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Workers March from SeaTac to Seattle to Push for $15 Min. Wage

Ashley Gross

Dozens of fast-food workers and activists took to the streets Thursday for a day-long march in support of $15 minimum wage.

The march began in SeaTac, where voters approved a $15 minimum wage this year, and headed for Seattle City Hall as a symbolic push for Seattle to follow SeaTac’s suit and adopt the higher wage.

“Twenty seven degrees. Freezing, but our spirits are red hot as we march all day from SeaTac to Seattle for $15!” Working Washington, a coalition of labor and community groups, said on Twitter.

The group was also hosting an Ask Me Anything chat onReddit for the duration of the chat.

Workers and community supporters marched down International Boulevard in SeaTac, chanting: "Fast food! Fight! SeaTac! Fight! Seattle! Fight! 15! Fight!"

A paid police escort held back traffic. Some passing drivers honked to show their support.

`Anything's Possible Now'

Karl Balogh works two fast-food jobs as manager at a McDonald's in Gig Harbor, where he makes $10.75 an hour, and at Arby's in Tacoma, where he makes Washington state minimum wage of $9.19 an hour. He said even with the two jobs, he's just scraping by. 

But Balogh says he's encouraged by the vote in SeaTac to raise the minimum wage for transportation and hospitality workers around the airport. 

"Just a year ago, this was, like, unheard of," Balogh said. "Nobody would have thought we'd have achieved anything like we have and won in SeaTac, just how far it's come and the public awareness of it has gotten so much greater than it was. I think, at this point, anything's possible now." 

The workers, who began marching at 9 a.m., expected to complete their 13-mile journey by 4:30 p.m. 

SeaTac's Proposition 1 passed by a slim margin of 77 votes out of 6,003 votes cast. But even before the ballots were certified last month, the opposing group Common Sense SeaTac called for a recount.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.