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McDonald’s employees in Oakland, Calif. went on strike after allegedly being told to use dog diapers and coffee filters as masks. The owner and operator of the McDonald’s location has denied the allegations.
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The workers went on strike Tuesday, claiming management told cooks, cashiers and other employees to use unused dog diapers or coffee filters to make masks after proper PPE masks ran out, the Associated Press reported. The strike came after at least four workers, including one who is pregnant, and their family members, became sick with COVID-19.
“McDonald’s is treating us like dogs,” said worker Delia Vargas in a statement to the Associated Press. “We don’t want to die for their hamburgers so we are going on strike, to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.”
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Those striking are demanding two-week paid time off for quarantine, as well as medical costs to be paid by McDonald’s. They also demand more PPE, and shutting down the Telegraph Avenue location to perform a deep clean – which, according to the employees, has not been done.
Michael Smith, the owner and operator of the Telegraph Avenue location, has refuted the allegations, claiming that proper personal protective equipment had been handed out to employees, and adding that “claims of being asked to wear coffee filters and dog diapers are entirely false.”
“We identified and reached out to all restaurant staff who had been in close contact with the employees who contracted the virus and advised they self-quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines. We expect to reopen in a few days when we can safely staff the restaurant again. Our people are the heart and soul of our McDonald’s family, and we are keeping those impacted in our thoughts for a fast and full recovery,” said Smith in a statement to East Bay Times.
To the publication, Smith also said McDonald’s is providing employees with paid leave, and “nearly $20,000 worth of grocery gift cards” to help.
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The Oakland McDonald’s is not the first to strike against McDonald’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Workers in 20 cities went on strike last week to put pressure on McDonald’s to improve employee protections during the COVID-19 crisis.
Forty-two percent of employees also alleged in a survey that management told them not to wear masks or gloves until early April.
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In a previous statement to Fox Business, McDonald’s denied the allegation, and said that the employees making such claims are not representative of the 850,000 McDonald’s employees nationwide.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment.