“Essential workers” face denial of sick time, cuts in hours, lack of protections
DARIEN, Conn. – Governor Ned Lamont has designated food service workers as essential employees, yet some 950 employees across the Connecticut Interstate System are facing systematic abuse that risks the health and well-being of the workers, their families, and communities across the entire Eastern seaboard.
“Workers at rest stops on I-95, I-15 and I-395 have faced unprecedented abuse with the onset of the Coronavirus crisis – abuse that we believe is truly criminal,” said Juan Hernandez, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, which has been supporting service plaza workers for the past year. “In clear violation of Connecticut state law, they have been denied both paid sick time and the Standard Wage that is guaranteed to workers on state-owned property. The lack of paid sick time is an urgent danger that forces workers to choose between providing for their families and coming to work sick. Now, the situation has been aggravated as these super-wealthy corporations and successful franchises cut workers’ hours and positions – cuts that have landed heavily on workers who have been outspoken in the ongoing fight for their rights.
“Workers demand that McDonalds and other corporations and franchises provide for their workforce during this crisis, and not ruin the lives of men and women who have faithfully performed their jobs at these rest stops for years, sometimes decades. It’s tragic that this crisis has provided an opening for companies like McDonald’s to ramp up their abuse. We call on the franchise owners and their corporate heads to reverse course and guarantee these workers their jobs.”
“I have been working as a nightshift manager at McDonald’s for three decades,” said Mario Franco, a worker at the Darien Northbound McDonalds. “We see customers from across the entire East Coast every single day. Yet we are still denied our legal right to paid sick days and other protections that are important for everyone we meet. We have received no special training or material to protect our health. Now, this week, the entire nightshift and I have been let go, including single mothers. This is a terrible situation that affects hundreds of workers and who knows how many people who pass through the rest stops.”
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington DC, including 5,000 members in Connecticut, 32BJ is the largest building service workers union in the country