A California McDonald's was forced to close after 22 workers walked out in protest of the fast-food giant's response to the coronavirus

Twenty-two workers walked off the job at an Oakland, California McDonald's on Tuesday.Fight for $15 and a Union.
  • A McDonald's in Oakland, California, was forced to shut down on Tuesday after 22 workers walked out in protest.
  • Four workers at the McDonald's location have tested positive for COVID-19. Three more have symptoms, and workers' family members have also tested positive.
  • McDonald's has announced new safety measures during the pandemic, including promising to provide masks for all employees.

Twenty-two workers walked off the job at an Oakland, California McDonald's on Tuesday, after four coworkers tested positive for COVID-19.

Workers at the restaurant are demanding a two-weeks of paid time off to quarantine, as well as a deep cleaning of the store, according to a release from Fight for 15, a campaign focused on fast-food workers' pay and benefits backed by the Service Employees International Union.

Employees said they were told to use coffee filters or dog diapers as the location ran out of masks. A manager reportedly told employees that the location would not close for deep cleaning, in an effort to avoid losing customers. Advertisement

"McDonald's is treating us like dogs," McDonald's worker Delia Vargas said in a statement. "We don't want to die for their hamburgers so we are going on strike, to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities."

In addition to the four workers who have tested positive, three more have symptoms, according to Fight for 15. Family members of the workers have also tested positive for COVID-19, including a ten-month-old baby.

When contacted by Business Insider, McDonald's did not provide comment on Tuesday's strikes.
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McDonald's is under scrutiny amid the pandemic

McDonald's workers strike for protective gear, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Los Angeles.Reuters

McDonald's workers in 20 cities went on strike last week, protesting the company's response to the coronavirus pandemic. At least four OSHA complaints have been filed by employees, with the support of Fight for 15. Allynn Umel, the organizing director for Fight for 15, told Business Insider earlier in May that the coronavirus pandemic sparked McDonald's workers' first-ever spontaneous strike and multi-day strikes since Fight for 15 launched in 2012. Advertisement

"I think there is also a very different level of both anger and degree of boldness and willingness to take action because workers fundamentally see the impossible choice that a number of them have to make every single day," Umel said.

Last Tuesday, workers in Chicago filed a class-action suit against McDonald's, saying the company "has failed to take adequate steps in response to the pandemic." According to the complaint, many stores lack masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, and most workers have not received training on how to protect themselves and customers.

McDonald's has emphasized that protests represent a small proportion of the chain's roughly 14,000 stores in the US. The chain has rolled out nearly 50 new safety measures during the pandemic, including promising to provide masks for all employees. Advertisement

McDonald's US vice president of communications David Tovar told Business Insider earlier in May that changes were made "because it was the right thing to do, not because ... a handful of employees at nine restaurants that were propped up by the SEIU held a couple of made-for-the-media events at our restaurants."

Tovar said McDonald's is considering longer-term changes, including making two weeks of paid sick leave permanent and raising workers' pay, as the "new normal" sets in. All employers, including McDonald's, are going to have to look at "what are the expectations of employees or the expectations of the regulatory environment."

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