McDonald’s workers in 19 cities who allegedly suffered severe burns on the job have filed 28 health and safety complaints with OSHA against the company. They have filed complaints over burns from popping grease, a lack of protective equipment and other workplace hazards, according to labor organizers.
The complaints are the latest move in an ongoing campaign to win pay of $15 an hour and unionization for fast-food workers by publicly pressuring McDonald’s to come to the bargaining table. The push is being leaded by the Service Employees International Union and began more than two years ago. Already, it has included protests around the country and lawsuits alleging workers weren’t given their rightful pay.
A representative for the Labor Department, Laura McGinnis, confirmed the complaints were received by OSHA but said the agency does not discuss ongoing investigations.
In a statement, McDonald’s Corp. said its franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees, and the company will review the allegations. “It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage,” Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a McDonald’s spokeswoman, said in the statement.
The employees allege that the restaurants’ understaffing and pressure to work too fast are created by the chain’s computer system that dictates staffing levels and the pace of work. They assert those are the main drivers responsible for the injuries of fast food workers. Because they are required to clean and filter fryers while the oil is hot, and floors are greasy and wet, workers are being injured.
The matter has reached the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, which said late last year that McDonald’s could be named as a joint employer in complaints by workers. The complaints have yet to be heard, but whichever side loses is expected to appeal the decision.