The majority of fast food workers in the United States — an astonishing 79 percent — have been burned while working in the past year, many repeatedly, as determined by a survey conducted by Hart Research Associate, released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, according to USA Today. Some McDonald’s workers apparently believe that they have literally been burned one too many times — and they have taken action.
McDonald’s workers filed 28 complaints with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state agencies that ensure workers’ safety, covering stores in 19 cities. The complaints were announced on March 16 by “Fight for $15,” a group spearheaded and funded by the Service Employees International Union. The group is trying to fight for a $15 minimum wage for restaurant workers.
The majority of McDonald’s are owned by independent franchisees. But the complaints were filed at both corporate and franchised McDonald’s locations, alleging that the corporation is ultimately responsible for how its franchisees perform, according to the Huffington Post. The complaints allege a wide range of workplace hazards.
The allegations range from bosses telling employees to work too quickly for conditions; a lack of proper staffing; pressure to clean and filter the fryer while the oil is still hot; a lack of proper protective equipment; floors that are greasy or wet; and missing or empty first-aid kits. Talk about putting salt in the wound: A third of the workers polled even stated that their supervisors told them to put condiments, such as mustard or mayonnaise, on their burns rather than seek proper medical attention.
Brittney Berry, an employee at a Chicago McDonald’s, alleged that she was so hassled one day that she fell and caught her arm on the grill. She said that because of this she suffered nerve damage and was hospitalized. Berry, who was arrested last year in an act of civil disobedience against McDonald’s, said the following about how she was treated, according to the Huffington Post.
“My managers kept pushing me to work faster. The managers told me to put mustard on it [her burn], but I ended up having to get rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. This is exactly why workers at McDonald’s need union rights.”
Martisse Campbell, a worker at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McDonald’s stated that a coworker who was severely burned while working was told to “put mayonnaise on it, you’ll be good.” Campbell also stated that “one of my co-workers and I have to empty the grease trap without protective gear,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
McDonald’s corporate released a statement that it will review the allegations, pointing out that an activist group is behind them. Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s, released the following statement.
“McDonald’s and its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations. It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage.”
The current OSHA and state safety complaints are part of a broader crusade on the behalf of workers and allegedly poor and substandard employment conditions, including wages, in the fast food industry. For more than two years, “Fight for $15,” organized a number of successful strikes by fast food workers at numerous locations across the country, including McDonald’s, KFC, and Taco Bell.
A recent Inquisitr article noted that even though Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage is not yet in effect, favorite restaurants are shutting down, anticipating the April 1 wage increase would be untenable.
[Photo Courtesy LA Times]