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McDonald's workers in Detroit protest unsafe working conditions

Mar 17, 2015

Workers say they sustain burns and other injuries from unsafe working conditions, and that managers tell them to put condiments like mustard on the burns.
Credit Flickr user silverlinedwinnebego

When LaWanda Williamson’s arm was burned by fryer oil at the McDonald’s where she says she works in Detroit, her manager was standing right next to her.

“And the manger was standing there like, ‘Oh snap, you ok?’ And it was burned she never even offered me the [burn] cream. I didn’t even know they had burn cream.”

Williamson, who says the fryer oil is regularly overfilled and has burned at least two others, says managers told other employees to put condiments like mustard on their burns.

“One of the employees was telling me that the manager had offered them mustard. And if that [does] work, why they didn’t offer that to me?”

She’s also one of the protestors who rallied in front of a Detroit McDonald’s today. A public relations company representing the protestors says their peaceful rally was broken up by six Detroit Police patrol cars.

"One of the employees was telling me that the manager had offered them mustard. And if that [does] work, why they didn't offer that to me?"

The protestors are part of a national campaign that’s pushing to get McDonald’s to pay $15 an hour.

Most recently, they filed more than 20 OSHA complaints this week around the country about unsafe working conditions.

Williamson says she does worry about getting fired from her job for taking part in the protests.  

“I worry about it, but it’s like, something has to be done. Because I can be fired at any moment whether I do this, or whether I just be at work looking the wrong way. Like, I’m never safe, because we don’t have a union.”

She says she makes $8.15 an hour. At one point when she was cut at work, she says the manager gave her Scotch tape and tissues to put on it.

“I wanted to be a part of the campaign because I feel like we deserve more. We go to work and get treated like crap, but we have to go to work because we have to make a living. [This way] the workers will eventually get managers that care and provide a proper, safe environment for us.”

"We go to work and get treated like crap, but we have to go to work because we have to make a living. [This way] the workers will eventually get managers that care and provide a proper, safe environment for us."

Williamson says the final straw came this past Sunday, when she was at work and her phone rang. She says she was trying to decline the call, but that her manager suspended her from work for texting.

“And I’m like, how, when I got gloves on? I was not texting. I wasn’t doing nothing. I was just declining a phone call. And when I got home I found out that my great grandmother, who’s 83, was rushed to the hospital.”

McDonalds has told a number of media outlets including CNBC that they’re reviewing the complaints filed against them through OSHA, but that it’s “important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage."