This May, following the initial outbreak of COVID-19, an Oakland McDonald’s at the Telegraph avenue location was forced to close its doors after its workers went on strike. With one confirmed case, workers began demanding:
- Paid 14-day quarantine for exposed workers, including hotel costs to protect families
- Contact tracing of impacted workers and families
- Closure and sanitization of contaminated stores
- Sick pay for exposed workers
- Adequate protective equipment and supplies
- Training of staff and managers on best practices for COVID-19 safety
- Compensation for lost hours due to COVID-19 concerns
- Certification that best practices are being followed at this and other locations
- Essential worker pay
- One free meal per shift
- Less than five-hour shifts without being forced to take unpaid lunch break
Where does employer responsibility begin?
Even though these demands were fair and reasonable, the franchise owner, Michael Smith, refused to meet employees to discuss their concerns.
As of right now, Smith is facing charges for public nuisance—35 people at the Telegraph avenue location were affected without proper notification from Smith. The Telegraph avenue location will stay closed until the court decides whether it is appropriate to order the owner to improve his safety practices around COVID-19.
This is not the only McDonald’s facing difficulties during this time. Another of Smith's locations in the East Bay has also closed due to an employee strike. Allegedly, employees were asked to wear and reuse makeshift masks when supplies ran out. An employee of Smith’s claims “[Smith] did not establish a plan to keep [employees] safe, to sanitize and social distance in case [an employee] got sick or a customer was sick."