A New York City McDonald's crew walked out Friday, saying they were forced to work without air conditioning amid record-high temperatures. One worker collapsed from the heat.
Luisa Villa, an employee who participated in the walkout on Friday, said in an interview with The Huffington Post that the air conditioner in the restaurant's kitchen has been broken at least since she began working there nine years ago. The crew member who collapsed, Esheliz Méndez, had complained about the broken air conditioner numerous times, she added. A repair was made last year after another employee collapsed, Villa said, but the cooling system broke again within a week.
"[The owners of the store] make fun of us because they think we're animals," Villa said in Spanish. "We're not animals. We're people. We don't want to die and you can certainly die from the heat, you know."Greg Basta, Deputy Director at New York Communities for Change, tweeted a photo of the scene:
— Greg Basta (@GBNYChange) July 19, 2013
The McDonald's branch in question, located in Washington Heights, is an independently owned franchise managed by Dominga De Jesus, according to the company's website. Seventy people work there in total, Villa said.
The McDonald's branch and the company's headquarters did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The New York City Fire Department told NBC News that it transported an unconscious person to the hospital from the McDonald's location early Friday afternoon.
Villa said she and her fellow employees walked out simply because they want the air conditioner to be fixed. Soon after the walkout took place, the owners brought in temporary workers so the restaurant could continue operating. Villa added that she hopes the owners will not retaliate against the workers and fire them because of the protests.Business Insider's Ashley Lutz tweeted the following after news of the incident broke:
My Brooklyn McDonald's is very hot inside. Worker said manager barely runs AC to discourage people from camping out all day
— Ashley Lutz (@AshleyLutz) July 19, 2013
Eleazar Melendez and Kim Bhasin contributed reporting.