Workers at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Jose, California abruptly walked off the job because their employer had failed to provide supplies as basic as soap so that they could continue working safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a New York Times column about impromptu strikes breaking out across the United States, veteran labor reporter Steven Greenhouse reveals that cooks and cashiers recently launched an impromptu strike because “they didn’t even have enough soap to clean their hands, and were not provided with gloves, masks or hand sanitizers.”
Ana Martinez, a cook at the restaurant, is quoted in Greenhouse’s column saying that workers don’t feel as if their lives are at all valued by the company.
“They’re not providing us with the simple necessities to combat the virus that is right in front of us,” she said. “We feel underappreciated and undervalued, so my co-workers and I decided to take this step to fight back.”
Greenhouse says that these worker strikes are noteworthy given how American workers get fewer benefits than their counterparts in other developed countries.
“The United States is the only wealthy nation that doesn’t have a national law guaranteeing workers paid parental leave and paid vacations,” he writes. “And until the recent passage of an emergency coronavirus law, it was one of the very few industrial nations not guaranteeing workers paid sick leave. The new law gives many American workers two weeks of paid leave if they need to take off work because of the virus, but in a stinging slap at workers, corporate America demanded, and won, an exemption for companies with more than 500 employees.”