LOS ANGELES TIMES – In the crowded kitchen of a McDonald’s outlet on a working-class commercial stretch of Oakland, it was as though the coronavirus didn’t exist.
Social distancing wasn’t enforced in the early weeks of the pandemic, workers at the Telegraph Avenue store claimed:
As they boxed Big Macs, scooped French fries and bagged orders, they often stood shoulder to shoulder.
There weren’t enough masks, so managers told workers to improvise, offering up a box of dog diapers somebody had left at the store.
Often, the outlet was so busy that workers said they had no time to wash their hands, let alone disinfect the countertops.
The outlet’s coronavirus information poster was of little help: It was printed in English, and most of the roughly 40 workers spoke Spanish.
When the coronavirus surged through the store in May, employees — even those with symptoms — said they were pressured to keep working, according to formal complaints filed with the local health department and the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Cashier Yamile Osoy, 26, developed such severe COVID-19 symptoms that she told her shift manager that she felt sick and wanted to go home. According to her complaint, he ordered her to lower her mask so she could breathe easier — and finish her shift.
By summer, the coronavirus had flared at nine other McDonald’s outlets within 15 miles of the Telegraph Avenue store, with more than 70 workers and their families testing positive or exhibiting symptoms, the formal complaints show.
Many of these employees worked at more than one outlet, potentially spreading the infection.
It’s a pattern that has repeated itself across the country as fast-food restaurants have struggled to maintain the health and safety of front-line workers who face conditions that frequently put themselves and their families at risk of contracting COVID-19.
A lack of protective equipment and social distancing and pressure to work at all costs have persisted deep into the pandemic, according to a review of summaries of 1,600 complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concerning the coronavirus in the nation’s fast-food industry, along with 200 additional accounts found in health department records, lawsuits and news reports.
The documents offer an equally troubling record of regulators who have been slow to intervene … Click source below to read more.