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Phoenix McDonald’s workers protest over safety conditions

PHOENIX — Following a day of protests nationwide, McDonald’s workers gathered outside of a Phoenix-area store Tuesday to demand safer working conditions.

Protesters claim many restaurants do not carry a first-aid kit, workers are not trained on what to do if they get burned and managers “brush off” injuries and tell them to keep working.

“I was making hash browns, and the hash brown maker was still hot (when she bumped it) and it burned into my hand,” Peiyi Zhong said. “I asked for a Band-Aid. They said it wasn’t bleeding, so I didn’t need a Band-Aid. And I had to get my own ice.”

Oscar Gomez, who works at the McDonald’s at 23rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road where the protest was held, echoed Zhong’s sentiment.

“I was on the grill one day, and I was supposed to clean it,” he said. “I was cleaned the grill with specific soap that they have at the McDonald’s here. After I was done, it was time for me to put everything back into place. On top of the grill are these hooks that we’re supposed to put the Teflon on. I was using a spatula. The spatula didn’t work as good, so I used my hands. I kind of went under it and tried to put the Teflon on and I accidentally burnt my forearm while I was doing it.”

Gomez said he never told the store manager about the incident, but his shift manager told him the only treatment was to put mustard on the wound.

Gomez said he wants McDonald’s to do more to protect their employees.

“My message for McDonald’s is to give the respect that the workers need and the right conditions for them to work and the right equipment,” he said. “Nowadays, I’m seeing more people get burned on the grill than any other job.”

Gomez claimed McDonald’s did not give him training on first aid.

We found a user’s manual for the grill Gomez was cleaning. It is stated the equipment will be hot. However, it is not known whether McDonald’s requires workers to read this material.

Tomas Robles with Living United For Change in Arizona said McDonald’s does have a first-aid policy.

“We want them to enforce that policy,” Robles said. “We want them to make sure that when their workers receive burns or injuries on the job, they are properly taken care of, that they’re not forced to choose between keeping their job or to continue working despite a bad burn or a bad injury.”

Robles claimed 75 percent of McDonald’s employees nationwide have complained of being burned on the job.