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McDonald's workers detail burns, hazards in OSHA complaint

McDonald's workers in 19 cities have filed complaints over burns from popping grease, a lack of protective equipment and other workplace hazards, according to labor organizers.

The complaints are the latest move in an ongoing campaign to win pay of $15 an hour and unionization for fast-food workers by publicly pressuring McDonald's to come to the bargaining table. The push is being spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union and began more than two years ago. Already, it has included protests around the country and lawsuits alleging workers weren't given their rightful pay.

The burns and other hazards were detailed in complaints announced Monday and filed with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in recent weeks. Workers cite a persistent lack of gloves for handling hot equipment and say they've been burned while cleaning grills that have to be kept on. They also detail a lack of training for handling hot fryers and slipping on wet floors.

A representative for the Labor Department, Laura McGinnis, confirmed the complaints were received by OSHA but said the agency does not discuss ongoing investigations.

In a statement, McDonald's Corp. said its franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees, and the company will review the allegations. "It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage," Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem, a McDonald's spokeswoman, said in the statement.

The complaints extend a central theme of the "Fight for $15" campaign, which has been to hold McDonald's accountable for working conditions at its franchised locations. That would ease the way for worker negotiations and unionization across the company's more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants, the vast majority of which are run by franchisees. McDonald's and other fast-food chains, including Burger King and Wendy's, have said they're not responsible for employment decisions at franchised restaurants.

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