Unsafe working conditions are causing ailments for workers at a Burger King restaurant in National City, protesters claim.
"They don't have adequate staff to provide relief [for workers] to take their legally protected ten-minute breaks — sometimes they don't have the relief to even go to the restroom," said Emiliana Sparaco, an organizer with the Fight for 15 campaign that for years has pushed for higher wages for service-industry employees.
"We have workers here with kidney infections and urinary tract infections because they don't have the ability to go to the bathroom because the restaurant is so grossly understaffed."
In addition to the staffing issues, workers complained about conditions in the kitchen.
"The ceiling is falling down, they don't have proper ventilation, and workers are having to breathe in grease," added Burger King employee Lupita Barajas, speaking with the aid of a translator. "Workers are developing respiratory issues like asthma because of this.
"It's hot out here. And it only gets hotter in the kitchen, where the air conditioners aren't working. The solution management has imposed is to put some fans on the floor, but that doesn't address the issue."
As the gathering of about 30 fast-food workers and union-organized sympathizers approached the building, management temporarily closed the restaurant, leaving the locked-out protesters to lead chants and garner honks that seemed like encouragement from passing car drivers on Highland Avenue.
"We will continue to harass the kind of people who continue to promote these working conditions," promised reverend Wayne Riggs of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, who said the allegations showed "a disrespect for the dignity" of employees.