McDonald's workers in Crenshaw strike for second day over coronavirus

General View of a McDonalds, Los Angeles. (Ian West - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Workers at a Crenshaw District McDonald's protested for a second straight day Monday in response to a co-worker testing positive for COVID-19, demanding they be provided with more protective equipment.

Workers began striking Sunday at the McDonald's restaurant at 2838 Crenshaw Blvd., saying a female co-worker tested positive for the virus last week.

Bartoleme Perez, a 30-year cook at McDonald's, told City News Service the workers want to be better protected beyond the gloves they already receive as part of their jobs. Perez said workers want equipment such as masks to keep them safe.

Workers also want to know why the company did not inform the other workers about their sick co-worker, Perez said.

"We've been pleading for protective equipment for more than a month now, but McDonald's is putting its profits ahead of out health," Perez said. "We don't want to die for McDonald's burgers and fries."

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The workers announced Monday morning they had filed a complaint with Cal-OSHA, citing an "imminent danger" due to a lack of equipment and cleaning supplies, and an inability to adhere to social distancing guidelines in cramped kitchens.

Perez told CNS that workers want a two-week quarantine with full pay because of the co-worker who tested positive for coronavirus. Workers are also demanding that McDonald's cover healthcare costs for any worker or worker's family member who tests positive.

He said McDonald's has not provided testing for the other workers who came into contact with the infected woman, adding that hours have been reduced, as have staff because of the virus, and each shift is only employing 10 to 15 people.

McDonald's Field Brand Reputation Manager Michael Vizza issued a statement Sunday from the franchise owner/operator of the Crenshaw restaurant, Nicole Enearu, in which she addressed the infected employee at the eatery and the actions she says her restaurant took as a result.

"Our highest priority is to protect the health and well being of our people," Enearu said. "We recently learned that an employee at our restaurant on Crenshaw Boulevard has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently under medical care.

"As soon as we were notified of the confirmed case, we immediately closed the restaurant to conduct a thorough sanitization procedure, as well as notified local public health authorities. Additionally, we identified and reached out to all restaurant staff who had been in close contact with the employee who contracted the virus. These employees have been asked to self quarantine for 14 days to ensure they remain healthy before returning to work."

"We have been in contact with the employee and are providing support during this time. We are committed to paying both the infected employee and the other employees who need to quarantine. Additionally, we have made an ample supply of gloves available to our employees and encourage frequent hand washing in the restaurant. We are also taking additional precautions by doing wellness checks with our employees before each shift to ensure they are feeling their best. Employees who are not feeling well are asked to stay home," Enearu said.

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McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger also issued a statement saying workers will be paid during any virus-related absences.

"Employees at our company-owned restaurants who are impacted by the virus are receiving two weeks paid leave to tend to their critical health needs. In addition, employees at a large percentage of franchised restaurants will receive emergency paid leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act," he said.

"During these difficult economic times, we are also vigilant in our role as an employer. We have been working tirelessly in this crisis to continue to serve our communities so we can provide the jobs our employees need.

"As reported by the National Restaurant Association this week, the restaurant industry stands to lose 5 to 7 million jobs as a result of the coronavirus. Combined with our franchisees, McDonald's provides approximately 850,000 jobs in the U.S. and pays billions in payroll every year."

"That's why we have been working to ensure our franchisees, many of whom are small-business owners, have the economic support they need so they aren't forced to close their doors. If they can stay open, they are able to give their employees job security and peace of mind in a safe environment," Erlinger said.

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Perez, the Crenshaw McDonald's cook, said workers are committed to staying off the job until they get needed protective equipment.

"We need security before we come back to work," Perez said. "I haven't really thought about the money at this point. I just want me and my family to be safe."