Fast food workers across the country protested the allegedly unsafe work conditions at major fast food chains amid complaints about a lack of adequate COVID-19 protection.
Fast food staffers across Illinois and California filed complaints with city officials, walked from their jobs and staged strikes against quick-service giants McDonald’s and Burger King last Wednesday, demanding better treatment and proper workplace protections from the raging pandemic.
The protests came just days after a Santa Monica Burger King worker died after displaying symptoms of coronavirus, advocacy groups said, citing accounts from the victim’s co-workers.
The woman, Angela Martinez Gomez, worked her shifts for at least a week while exhibiting symptoms – which included coughing and nausea, according to a complaint filed on her behalf – but managers allegedly brushed off her symptoms, saying they were probably just side-effects of her hormone injections. Gomez, who is transgender, died on July 6.
Employees at the Santa Monica restaurant said they filed a complaint with state and county officials in the wake of Gomez’s death, saying they were concerned about potentially “dangerous” conditions in the restaurant: infrequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, lack of face masks and lax enforcement of social distancing, according to local news outlet KTLA, which obtained a copy of the five-page complaint to local officials.
Co-workers said Gomez was coughing, nauseated and “running to the restroom a lot” before going home sick on June 29. Later, another employee, identified in the complaint as Mariela, reportedly developed symptoms and a high temperature, but a manager allowed her to keep working, according to the report.
The Burger King workers are asking local regulators to immediately close the location until a deep cleaning and safety plan has been implemented. They are also asking for paid leaves during any COVID-19-related closures and seeking compensation for any time missed due to coronavirus exposure in the workplace.
Separately, McDonald’s workers throughout Chicago staged similar protests Wednesday, walking out on the job and demanding better workplace protection as the number of coronavirus infections continue to rise in the city.