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Fast Food Employees Walk Off The Job In Darien

Courtesy of 32BJ SEIU
A fast food worker is interviewed by the media during Thursday's walkout in Darien, Conn.

Fast food workers at the I-95 service plaza in Darien, Connecticut, walked off the job this morning. They say they have faced systematic mistreatment while working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employees from McDonald’s and Taco Bell took to the plaza’s parking lot with signs reading “Essential Workers, Not Expendable Workers" and “No More SysteMAC Oppression,'' a play-off of the McDonald’s Big Mac.

The workers say they are at-risk and underpaid, and are not receiving benefits such as paid sick time.

Workers from McDonald’s also claim new people are being hired while some long-time workers were laid off during the pandemic. 

Rochelle Palache is with 32BJ SEIU, the union that organized the walkout. She says these issues have been disproportionately impacting minority communities. 

“It’s not just a fight for rest stop workers, it’s a fight for all Black and brown low-wage workers who for too long have been treated like they’re expendable, who for too long, especially now in a pandemic are titled essential but are really sacrificial, and the time is now for action.” 

State Senator Julie Kushner, co-chair of the Labor Committee, joined them at the walkout. She says this kind of treatment was happening long before the pandemic, and has a greater impact on minority communities.  

“The pandemic, I think, has brought attention to the problem, but it was never right. This has been going on far too long. And yes, of course there is an element of race because a disproportionate amount of the workers are Black and brown.”

The demonstrators also say staff members contracted coronavirus due to lack of personal protective equipment and proper building sanitation. The fast food companies say they’ve updated their safety protocols.

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