Afraid of contracting the virus, the employees went on strike, but are now calling for their return to employment.
At noon Thursday, activists joined workers at a McDonald’s in Boyle Heights to demand that they return to work after they decided to go on strike over lack of safety and security during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lizzet Aguilar, 35, one of those affected, said that when the pandemic began at the McDonald’s where she works, located at 1716 Marengo Street, her work area was not safe. She learned of two female employees who tested positive for COVID-19 and still continued to work. The excuse they were given is that supposedly the manager did not know they were infected.
Aguilar said that in the area of drive thruShe had very close contact with one of the infected workers, but fortunately she did not become infected.
However, afraid that she could take the virus home and transmit it to her 5-year-old son or her husband, Aguilar, like three other colleagues, they decided to go on strike at the end of July.
“When we found out about the second infected I thought it shouldn’t be there,” Aguilar said.
So far, at least five employees at the Boyle Heights store have tested positive for COVID-19.
In addition to asking for their employment back, the reporting employees are demanding greater transparency about possible exposure to COVID-19 at work, a deep cleaning of stores where cases have been confirmed, and that McDonald’s add a sign to the drive-thru urging customers to wear skins.
Aguilar said that when the pandemic began, the management did not give them any type of protection such as masks.
“The manager told us that clients wore or did not wear a mask, we had to attend to them,” Aguilar said. The store didn’t care about our health. “
When it came to “deep cleaning”, the store also did not hire specialized personnel but instead used the same workers to clean.
“Meanwhile they brought in other employees from other stores to take their place. It is very sad to see that they do not care about the health of the employees, “said Aguilar.
During the protest, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, representative of the area, said that it is clear that the neighborhoods of communities of color are the most affected by the virus.
He added that residents in areas like the ones he represents, mostly Latino and immigrants, are often forced to work, not for pleasure but because there are obligations and payments to make.
“You should buy groceries to put on the table so your children can eat,” said the assemblyman. “And it is unimaginable that multinational corporations would come to our neighborhoods just to make a profit.”
Santiago expressed that it is the obligation of these large companies such as McDonald ‘s to ensure that both their workers and the neighborhoods they serve are protected.
“I think sometimes companies forget about that … If you are infected, your customers are going to be much worse off because they are going to be infected,” he explained.
Workers said they will not be intimidated by management and will continue to protest until their jobs are returned.
Representatives of the group “Fight for $ 15 and a Union” said that so far management has refused to reestablish hours for the striking workers or communicate to fix the situation.
The store also continues to ignore workers’ demands to add a sign to the drive-thru tell customers to wear masks.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Aguilar has filed multiple complaints with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health alleging a wide range of health and safety violations at his store, including that customers are still being treated with or without masks. , the lack of adequate personal protection for employees and the lack of social distancing and sanitation of high contact surfaces.
The Boyle Heights McDonald’s franchise denied all allegations, saying the Boyle Heights store has closed its dining room and requires all customers picking up orders to wear a mask.
“We also installed protective barriers on the counter and in the drive-thru, in addition to complying with the guidelines for social distancing and improved hygiene procedures ”, indicated the R&B Sánchez DBA McDonald’s franchise.
Additionally, the franchise ensured that employees receive gloves and masks daily as well as a temperature check. If any employee is infected they are immediately sent home for a 14-day quarantine and the entire store is properly cleaned.
“To further ensure the safety of our employees and customers, we carry out thorough cleaning procedures every night, as well as sanitize high-touch areas in the restaurant throughout the day.”
The county’s fast food restaurants are estimated to serve an estimated 2.5 million customers daily and employ 166,000 workers in 7,500 locations, making these restaurants high-risk locations.
For this reason, fast food workers across Los Angeles County are demanding that the Board of Supervisors adopt legislation that specifically addresses the fast food COVID-19 crisis.