Workers at a McDonald's in the Crenshaw District staged a drive-thru walk-out Sunday after they learned a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19 and the company, they claimed, has not provided workers with equipment to keep them safe from the coronavirus, a worker said.
The "strike" took place at the McDonald's restaurant at 2838 Crenshaw Blvd., beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Workers struck the company after they learned that one of their female co-workers this past week tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Bartoleme Perez, a cook at McDonald's for 30 years told City News Service.
"We don't yet know exactly who tested positive," Perez told CNS. "One of our other co-workers let people know that a female worker had tested positive for the virus Monday or Tuesday."
Local news from across Southern California
Perez said workers want equipment such as masks to help keep workers safe. workers already get gloves, he said, because McDonald's is required to give workers gloves.
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 continued. "We don't want to die for McDonald's burgers and fries."
Perez told CNS that workers want a two-week quarantine with full pay because of the co-worker who tested positive for the coronavirus. Workers are also demanding that McDonald's cover health care costs for any worker or a worker's family member who test positive for the virus.
McDonald's has not provided testing for the other workers who came into contact with the infected woman, he said. Hours, he said, have been reduced, as have staff because of the virus. Each shift is only employing 10 to 15 people, he said.
Workers, he added, are in the process of filing a complaint with California's OSHA because of the infected co-worker and the lack of safety equipment.
Perez also said he's heard that three other workers have been quarantined, but he doesn't know if that number is accurate or if the workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
Workers, he said, are committed to stay out until it's safe for them to come back and they get the equipment they need to protect themselves.
Perez said he doesn't exactly know what workers will do for money as the strike drags on.
"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."
Perez said workers also intend to reach out to L.A.'s mayor and other elected officials for help with their plight.
This walkout today is the latest in a list of locations where workers have walked off the job because they don't have protection against the virus and are demanding hazard and sick pay. Those other locations include: Memphis, Miami, Orlando, Raleigh Durham, San Jose, St. Louis and Tampa.
In a related development a worker at a nearby Domino's eatery has walked off the job while the restaurant remains open after a co-worker reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
"We have no masks and no gloves and will no put our lives at risk for pizza," said Francisco Zuniga, a Domino's delivery worker. "I'm joining out colleagues at McDonald's in demanding two weeks of self-quarantine with full pay and for Domino's to pay health care costs if I, or any of my immediate family members get sick with coronavirus."
No one from McDonald's was immediately available for comment. But McDonald's Corp. has put out a number of official statements regarding the virus and safety of its workers and customers.
"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," said McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger.
"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 five to seven 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.
McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski put out a video message outlining five principles that McDonald's is following in dealing with the pandemic.
1. We're all in this together. We've got each-others backs, because that's what makes us so strong.
2. Think and act with a long-term mindset. One day, we will be on the other side of this. Life will normalize again. Communities will be back to normal. And that's where we need to keep our focus. The decisions we do, or don't make, in the coming weeks will reverberate for years.
3. Be transparent with each other and our stakeholders. If any one of us has a problem, we all have a problem. The System can count on McDonald's leaders to tell it like it is.
4. Lead by example. McDonald's will lead "we always do" with our customers and people in mind. We will never ask customers or our people to go where we wouldn't go, or work where we wouldn't work.
5. Stay true to our purpose. Fostering community is the most powerful thing we do. Our System has almost 40,000 community touchpoints. These are spaces where we feed and foster the community we serve.
Perez and the other workers say they are waiting for McDonald's to walk the talk when it comes to their employee safety.