“It’s easy to not think about the person serving you your food,” 21-year-old Caroline Durocher told me as she prepared for the 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at a Taco Bell in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
“We definitely get disrespected a lot and looked down upon for being in fast food,” sighed Durocher. But she was about to earn some respectDurocher had been working low-wage jobs since she was 16, but after five years of so-called “entry-level” employment, she felt stuck. Unable to get a better job without a college degree, but unable to earn enough money to go back to college, Durocher barely scraped by serving up 99-cent tacos to a steady stream of impatient drive-thru customers before heading home to the studio apartment she shared with her father.
Shortly after 11 p.m. that night, May 29, 2013, Durocher walked off her $9.19 an hour job to become the first fast-food worker in Seattle to strike for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The next day, hundreds of Seattle fast-food workers and their supporters followed her lead, temporarily shutting down as many as 14 restaurants to chants of “Supersize our salaries now!”