The non-profit Fight for $15 organization has released a disturbing video entitled “Burned at McDonald’s. Treated with MUSTARD” on March 16, 2015, which reports that, “Four out of five fast food workers have been burned” while on the job.
According to the Burn Foundation in Philadelphia, “The Food Service Industry experiences the highest number of burns of any employment sector, about 12,000 each year. Cooks, food handlers, kitchen workers, and wait staff are all listed among the top 50 occupations at risk for on-the-job burn injury.”
The video features current McDonald’s employees, who wish to remain anonymous, sharing their stories. They were identified only by their initials and their faces were obscured. The two workers featured speak of how they were told by management to treat their burns with mustard, ketchup, butter and other condiments.
The video was released on YouTube by Fight for $15 to correspond with the news of 28 McDonald’s employees who filed safety complaints against the franchise, which has over 14,000 stores operating in the United States.
One such employee, Brittney Berry of Chicago, told The Huffington Post that she slipped and caught her arm on the grill, causing nerve damage. “My managers kept pushing me to work faster. The managers told me to put mustard on it, but I ended up having to get rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.”
The Kessler Burn & Trauma Center, located at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, advises burn victims not to treat their injuries with “butter, grease, creams, sprays, burn ointments, or powders.”
Other allegations criticize the lack of medical supplies and First Aid materials available in store locations. One-third of fast food workers reported last year that their restaurant had “empty or poorly equipped” First Aid kits.
McDonald’s was once the most profitable corporation in the fast food industry. Now, thanks to groups like Fight for $15, the company has come under scrutiny for its highly questionable business practices and lack of concern for workers.
“Fast food companies care way more about their profits than the basic safety of their workers,” according to a public statement issued by Fight for $15.
A recent report issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Adding inequality to injury: The costs of failing to protect workers on the job, concludes in its executive summary:
“The failure of many employers to prevent millions of work injuries and illnesses each year, and the failure of the broken workers’ compensation system to ensure that workers do not bear the costs of their injuries and illnesses, are truly adding inequality to injury.”
The Fight for $15 campaign, with the help of the Service Employees International Union, has been working for the last two years to help organize fast food workers to fight for better working conditions.
The alleged systematic abuse by companies like McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell and other fast food chains has not gone unnoticed in recent years. In the last two years, national fast food strikes have erupted across the country from coast to coast, drawing thousands into the street demanding respectful treatment as human beings.
Strikes are expected nationwide on April 15, according to the Fight for 15 campaign.
Mike Kuhlenbeck is a journalist and researcher whose work has appeared in The Humanist, Z Magazine and The Des Moines Register. He is a member of the National Writers Union and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Photo: Fight for 15, Twitter.