Under a cloudy Los Angeles sky, lining all the way up and down the drive-thru, cars flocked to the McDonald’s, located at 2838 Crenshaw Blvd., in South L.A. on Monday morning to protest the way the restaurant chain has handled the COVID-19 outbreak.
Among other things, workers, who were out there for the second day in a row, were asking for a 14-day paid leave to self-isolate after a co-worker at the location tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from Fight for 15 LA. Fight for 15 LA is a group of fast-food workers uniting to fight for $15/hour pay and the right to unionize.
Workers sent their message by holding signs from inside their cars, while others had messages written on their vehicle’s windows. Photos on Twitter showed signs that read “Warning: This store refuses to give workers paid leave even if we are exposed to COVID-19” and “McDonald’s workers are on strike, we demand two weeks pay to self-quarantine #fightfor15.”
The demand for two weeks of paid leave appears to be in line with medical expert’s recommendations. To maintain the safety of the community, the World Health Organization recommends self-isolating after exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Maria Rodriguez, a McDonald’s employee, made a video posted to Twitter, where she said she had just learned a coworker had the virus but didn’t know who the person was.
“The managers haven’t told us anything,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know in what schedule that person works or if I worked with that person. I’m terrified of getting infected and infecting my family.”
Workers from the South L.A. location were also joined by others from San Jose in filing a complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, according to the Fight for 15 LA news release. The complaint was filed, the release states, because the fast food restaurant has a “lack of protective equipment and cleaning supplies and an inability to follow social distancing guidelines, among other issues.”
Along with paid leave and a sanitary work environment, the employees at the Crenshaw restaurant also want McDonald’s to be financially responsible for any health expenses related to COVID-19, according to the news release.
In a statement sent out by the McDonald’s Field Brand Reputation Manager Michael Vizza, Nicole Enearu, the owner and operator of the restaurant, said the restaurant was immediately closed and sanitized after they learned one of their workers tested positive for COVID-19.
“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,” Enearu wrote.
Additionally, the press release states that workers who had been exposed to the infected employee have been asked to self-quarantine for a 14 day period, during which Enearu stated she is committed to ensuring that they continue to get paid. She also wrote that other precautionary measures will be taken at the restaurant.
“We have made gloves and masks 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 wrote in the press release.
Daisy Castaneda, a South L.A. resident and frequent customer at this location, voiced her support for the employees in a comment left on Fight for 15 LA’s Instagram post. In a phone interview, Castaneda said she and her family have frequented this location for nearly 25 years and that’s why she wanted to support the workers.
“In support of obviously making sure that everyone is healthy at McDonald's, I can, you know, be reassured that my family's going to be healthy,” Castaneda said.
According to NBC News, Monday’s walkout was one of many COVID-19-related job strikes across the country. In Memphis, Miami, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, San Jose, St. Louis and Tampa, McDonald’s workers have protested against the fast food restaurant.