Kansas City McDonald's skirts paid COVID-19 sick leave, forcing sick worker to man grill

Posted March 24, 2020 from Daily Kos —

A shift manager at a Missouri McDonald's restaurant is holding the company to task in a New York Times video for failing to provide paid sick leave to about 500,000 of its employees amid the coronavirus pandemic. Fran Marion, a more than 10-year McDonald’s worker in Kansas City, makes $11.50 an hour and lives paycheck to paycheck, according to the video published Thursday. "I'm that face that you see that has served you your hashbrown for breakfast, maybe a Quarter Pounder for lunch, and I even gave you a McFlurry to top off your dinner menu," Marion said in the video. “So I ask you: If I caught the coronavirus, would you want me making your next meal?”

Not only has the $5.3 billion company left many of its employees with little to no support if they get sick, leaked McDonald’s recordings revealed the company lobbied against aspects of new legislation attempting to widen paid sick leave in light of COVID-19, according to Business Insider. President Donald Trump signed into law relief legislation Wednesday only promising sick leave to 20 percent of private-sector employees, according to The New York Times. That legislation specifies two weeks of paid sick leave only for companies with 50 to 500 workers, leaving out workers at the money-making giants like McDonald’s.

The legislation follows an internal conference call Monday on which McDonald's executives said the fast-food chain has been lobbying lawmakers and the Trump administration to fight more robust paid sick leave plans. According to Business Insider, David Tovar, McDonald's vice president of communications in the United States, said the company was "pulling out all the stops to work with" the National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, "owner-operators, our trade partners, our friends in Congress, congressional leaders, and anyone who can make a difference to fix the bill."

Somehow, McDonald’s leadership still managed to claim the company supports the legislation. "To be clear, McDonald's supports the bill that would provide sick leave support to employees impacted by Coronavirus, and in fact, McDonald's and many of its franchise owners have already committed to offer those same benefits to potentially diagnosed employees," an unidentified McDonald’s representative told Business Insider. "At the same time, we are sensitive to the economic pressures independent owner-operators face and are supportive of efforts to ensure they have the cash flow needed to keep their employees working." I’m hearing monetary priorities, concerns about the financial well-being of restaurant owners, and a desire to pass the buck of paid sick leave off to franchise owners, but nowhere in that statement is any concern for the actual well-being of employees like Marion.

"A sick day for me is lost wages," the worker said. "I literally have to be damn near on my death bed to take a full-blown sick day. A missed check is the difference between me having a roof over me and my family's head versus us being homeless." Marion said she is one of the 20 percent of food service workers who go to work even exhibiting symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea. "Last week, I was under the weather," she said. "I was sick to the point where I had to leave the grill to go to the restroom, and I wound up vomiting."

She had no promise of paid leave to ensure she could return home without worrying about her pay being affected, but McDonald’s representatives said in a news release March 9th it would provide that assurance to corporate-owned restaurants. The company promised two weeks of paid leave for employees impacted at those locations, which Marion said only make up 5% of McDonald’s restaurants. “Companies can change this,” Marion said. “Since this coronavirus pandemic, Olive Garden has given their employees paid sick leave not just during this time, but for good. So we know that McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, they can all do it as well, but they just have chosen not to."

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