Low-Wage Worker Strikes Spread West as States Wrestle With Minimum Wage

This week, Seattle became the latest city to see strikes by fast-food workers calling for higher wages, following similar actions in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Detroit this year. Echoing the calls of workers in other cities, Seattle workers were demanding the right to organize without employer retaliation as well as higher wages. Washington state currently has the nation's highest minimum wage, at $9.19 an hour. Yet as one striking Taco Bell employee put it, that still isn't nearly enough to provide workers with an income that would allow them to afford the basics, especially given the limited hours many are allowed by their employers. As legislative sessions reach their hectic final stretches in many states, minimum wage increases also continued to be on the agenda as legislators wrestled with whether -- and how much -- to increase their state minimum wage:

The action in Seattle was the seventh work stoppage by American fast food workers in the last eight weeks. [The Nation

"At the minimum wage of $9.19 per hour and only 27 hours per week, I don't earn enough to make ends meet." -- Taco Bell worker Caroline Durocher. [AOL Jobs

Connecticut's legislature passed a small minimum wage increase -- 75 cents over two years -- and sent it to Governor Dan Malloy, who was expected to sign it into law. [CT News Junkie

“The economy’s doing pretty well, but not for the folks at the bottom... the money [from the minimum wage increase] is going to be spent again and again.” -- Connecticut State Rep. Peter Tercyak. [CT Mirror]

The minimum wage legislation in Connecticut does not cover tipped workers, including restaurant servers and hotel workers, who will continue to earn $5.69 an hour. [Connecticut Post]

California's Assembly this week approved a minimum wage increase of $1.25 up to $9.25 an hour over three years that would also index the wage to inflation. [LA Times]

Santa Clara County in California may go further and match San Jose's recent voter-approved minimum wage increase to $10 an hour. [Silicon Valley Business Journal]

(This article originally appeared in the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's email roundup of the latest state policy news. Read the full Dispatch from May 31, 2013 here or sign up to receive the Dispatch in your inbox here.)