Fast food workers in California face threats and assaults on the job

Kcharlee Hughes was unable to pull away when a man fleeing a suspected gunman broke into the McDonald’s restaurant where she works last summer and attempted to hide in the kitchen.

The man pushed her into an empty fryer just two feet from the hot grease, twisting her knees in the process, Hughes said in a complaint to Cal-OSHA she filed after the incident.

The chaos continued in the South Natomas restaurant that August day, she recalled. The man ended up staying behind the restaurant for a few minutes. He yelled at customers as he left and recorded them on his cell phone.

“What happened is such a blur,” said Hughes, 51, in his Cal-OSHA complaint. “I realized I had bruises all the way down my shoulder to my knee.”

The incident reflects the lingering dangers for fast-food restaurant workers who work in easily accessible locations that often lack security, labor rights advocates argue in a new report released on Tuesday.

Advocacy group Fight for $ 15 and a Union documented some 77,000 911 calls for suspected violent or threatening incidents in 2017 and 2020 at major fast food chains in nine major cities in California. The group called the reports a “crisis of violence” with a significant number of threats, assaults and other activities at work.

Sacramento restaurants generated more than 8,000 emergency calls, including 756 for threats and 720 for assault. A store on 30th and K Street generated more than 1,000 calls, according to the analysis.

In Stockton, each location reported on average more than 400 incidents between 2017 and 2020 for violent or threatening behavior.

The Fight for $ 15 and a Union released the report to begin lobbying the legislature for a bill that would make California the first state to establish a council setting pay and labor standards for all of the fast food industry.

“We shouldn’t have to risk our lives for burgers and fries,” Maria Pinzon, a McDonald’s employee in Oakland, said in the group’s press release. “We are always on the alert, worried that our next shift will be the last. “

Industry groups such as the California Restaurant Association have said the proposal unfairly targets the fast food industry, saying national brands can use their scale and size to better support their workers and improve their working conditions.

McDonald’s director of global security Rob Holm said in a statement that the report did not reflect the “stringent safety and security procedures” maintained by restaurant teams. Because McDonald’s is a familiar presence in many communities, people refer to its locations even though the calls have nothing to do with store operations, Holm said.

Holm also said managers and staff at McDonald’s-owned restaurants undergo comprehensive training, including a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program. The company provides the same resources to franchisees and will soon be implementing standards for safe and respectful workplaces, Holm said.

Violence in fast food restaurants

The report analyzed 911 calls from fast food outlets in Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Stockton. He also focused on four of the biggest burger restaurants: McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Burger King and Carl’s Jr.

The 643 stores analyzed represent only a fraction of the state’s roughly 29,000 fast food outlets, the group said in its report. Many incidents also go unreported, with some workers in the report saying they were pressured by their managers not to call 911.

The report paints a disturbing picture, finding that more than one in eight calls involved assault. In San Francisco, almost a third of calls were about assaults, including fights, shootings, kidnappings and physical assaults.

The report is not the only one to note the prevalence of violence in fast food restaurants. A McDonald’s in San Francisco closed in 2018 after police were called to the site some 1,100 times between 2012 and 2015 and the site was declared a public nuisance.

A 2019 report from the National Employment Law Project found that at least 721 incidents of workplace violence at McDonald’s were documented in media across the country between 2016 and 2019.

Its report found that violent incidents were more likely to occur late at night, which has become a bigger problem as more fast food restaurants extend their hours of operation, with some opening 24 hours. on 24.

Yet workers are not trained to protect themselves. Basic cash handling safety procedures are not followed and protective measures such as accessible panic buttons are not fitted in many stores, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Workers share their stories

Several workers interviewed for the report said they had not received much help from their managers when it came to dealing with threats and assaults in the workplace.

Leticia Reyes, an employee of a Jack in the Box in the North Highlands of Sacramento, said she had seen so many incidents, including one person with a metal spike outside threatening to injure people and one person died in front of the store.

“I feel bad. Very scared. Scared, especially when I have to work at night,” Reyes said in Spanish through a translator. She works nights from 2 to 10 p.m. “I have to be alone and he there’s no one to protect me … no one else seems to care.

Despite several armed robberies in 2020 at Pinzon’s Oakland store that caused her panic attacks, she was not given any treatment or made aware of the benefits or programs she could access, she said. in the report.

Olivia Garcia, a McDonald’s employee in San Jose, said she was verbally harassed by a man for not giving her her food for free. The man started knocking and kicking the locked door, she said.

“He would say things like, ‘Are you afraid? Get out there, see what happens to you, ”she said. “I took what he said as a threat to my life.”

She said she received no support from management after the incident.

This story was originally published 7 December 2021 13:06.

Stories Related to Sacramento Bee

Jeong Park joined the Capitol Bureau of the Sacramento Bee in 2020 as part of the newspaper’s community-funded Equity Lab. It covers economic inequalities, focusing on how state policies affect workers. Prior to joining the Bee, he worked as a city reporter for the Orange County Register.

Source link

About Walter Bartholomew

Check Also

Take credit for Tim Hortons in Georgia

My “honey fruit bat” at Tim Hortons hit the mark. Editor’s note: Trevor Williams traveled …