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McDonald’s Los Angeles workers strike after violent attack by customer leaves employee bruised and beaten

McDonald’s iconic golden arches. Gene J. Puskar / ASSOCIATE PRESS

  • A group of six McDonald’s employees are asking the company to add better security protocols.

  • The restaurant called 911 on average once every four days, according to a Cal / OSHA complaint seen by Insider.

  • The violence and explosion against workers is in part the product of anxiety caused by COVID.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Workers at a McDonald’s store in the south Los Angeles area went on strike Tuesday, citing a pattern of violence that has plagued the store for years.

Restaurant workers staged a rally outside to draw attention to the customary violence they were subjected to. They also called on McDonald’s to provide a safer work environment, as well as additional training to deal with violent interactions.

The strike was sparked by a recent incident, in which an angry customer attacked a cashier, according to an OSHA report signed by six restaurant employees. A worker on site, Victor Bonilla, said he had to intervene to save the customer’s cashier.

“I had to jump to try to separate the client. I was hit twice in the ribs and stomach. I don’t think the manager called the police, and I didn’t see the police coming,” he said in the report.

McDonald’s condemned the violence in the restaurant in a statement to Insider and said police were called.

“We are outraged by this senseless act of violence which has no place in our restaurants. Fostering a safe workplace for the crew is extremely important to us, and we have several layers of safety measures established in the restaurant. including security personnel and an updated security system, ”Jackie Bunting, McDonald’s U.S. operations manager, told Insider.“ In this case, protocol was followed and law enforcement were contacted immediately to intervene. We were proud to welcome the affected employee back to work and will continue to focus on safely serving our communities. “

Another worker, Fanny Velazquez, said management had not provided advice or training on how to deal with workplace violence.

“When there is a violent incident, management doesn’t give us instructions on what to do or tell us what’s going on. Usually I just know because I hear the screams from up front. “she said in a statement. included in the report.

Workers say violence is an ongoing problem at the site and they have filed complaints with Cal / OSHA and the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.

“Violence happens every day at this McDonald’s,” the workers wrote in their CalOsha complaint viewed by Insider. During the three-year period from 2017 to 2020, public records examined by Fight for 15 show 354 911 calls from the restaurant, or about one call every four days. The calls included disturbances, assaults, burglaries, threats, etc.

McDonald’s says those 911 calls also include non-violent needs such as health and wellness checks, and they are presented out of context in the report.

Read more: Strikes, massive resignations and rage: we spoke to workers fed up with terrible conditions and fighting back

In the file, the workers ask the agency “to demand that McDonald’s take action to provide a safe and secure workplace free from threats and violence” and “to provide us with training so that we know what to do in the event of a violent incident.

Customer violence is a major concern in the retail industry, and it has only worsened during the pandemic. A Service Employees International Union survey of 4,187 McDonald’s employees in the summer of 2020 found that nearly half of respondents said they had been physically or verbally assaulted.

The pandemic has caused fear and anxiety in people, activating the amygdala, the fight-or-flight part of the brain, Luana Marques, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told Insider’s Avery Hartmans .

Some retail workers are leaving the industry in droves. The labor shortage in many sectors of the economy is a boon to dissatisfied retail workers who are suddenly able to seek new jobs and leave low wages and difficult customers.

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