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Burger war in National City

Fast-food employees protest unhealthy working conditions

The Fight for 15 at the Home of the Whopper's front door
The Fight for 15 at the Home of the Whopper's front door

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.

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The Fight for 15 at the Home of the Whopper's front door
The Fight for 15 at the Home of the Whopper's front door

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.

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Comments
3

Foreign owned Berger King abuses workers.

July 28, 2016

If it is that bad for workers can you imagine what happens to the ignorant customers? How about letting us know who operates this Berger King? How many of the employees are illegals?

July 30, 2016
As someone who works in the restaurant industry (janitor) the allegations set out in the article are easily believable. For instance, the Health Department. A waiter once told me of a health inspector who had all his house parties catered by a restaurant he regularly inspected. Clash of interests? Not in Dago. Business as usual. As for breaks, lunches and unhealthy and unsafe working conditions those will vary from joint to joint. But let me say this. It doesn't matter if you are in La Jolla or Barrio Logan, you're probably going to be served by the same type of person. A newly arrived, usually poorly educated immigrant, who often has no clue they are being taken advantage of.
July 30, 2016

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