Activists, Pols Protest Work Conditions After AC Fails in WaHi McDonald's

By Victoria Bekiempis and Nigel Chiwaya  on July 19, 2013 4:58pm

 Workers at the McDonald's at 4259 Broadway at West 181st Street walked out of their jobs on Friday, July 19 2013 to protest working in a kitchen without air conditioning. The management has since installed A.C. and the workers have returned to their post.
Workers at the McDonald's at 4259 Broadway at West 181st Street walked out of their jobs on Friday, July 19 2013 to protest working in a kitchen without air conditioning. The management has since installed A.C. and the workers have returned to their post.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Sweltering working conditions in a local McDonald’s Friday sparked a spur of the moment labor movement, which peaked with supporters chasing off the restaurant’s owner who later conceded to demands for an air conditioner.

The demonstration touched off at noon when five employees in the kitchen staff walked out, protesting the searing conditions.

The workers, surrounded by reporters and police officers from the 34th Precinct, held signs and shouted "no A.C. no peace" and "no A.C., no workers!"  to blast the restaurant for dangerous work conditions, they said.

"They pay $7.25 but they don't want to have us comfortable," said Nathy Verez, a three-year employee of the restaurant. "But yet they have all the money in their pockets? That's not right."

"Slavery time ended a long time ago," Verez added. "They're not supposed to treat us like slaves."

The protest came to a head, however, when several area elected officials showed up.

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and District Leader Mark Levine arrived at the walk-out in solidarity with the workers.

When they went into the McDonald's, the owner fled the restaurant through a side door.

Rodriguez and the protesters then followed him into a hallway that leads to the Apple Bank branch located at 706 West 181st St.

When bank employees blocked them from exiting the hallway, the group marched out chanting "We'll be back!"

Rodriguez then announced: "If they try to retaliate against these employees, we'll be back here again with hundreds of people."

The conflict came to a close, however, shortly after a new A.C. was delivered.

Workers have since returned to their posts at the restaurant.

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