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With No AC, Some McDonald’s Workers Walk Off The Job In Washington Heights

At Least 1 Employee Taken To Hospital With Heat-Related Sickness
Workers at a Washington Heights McDonald's walked off the job because there was no air conditioning in the eatery. (credit: Russell Murphy)

Workers at a Washington Heights McDonald’s walked off the job because there was no air conditioning in the eatery. (credit: Russell Murphy)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Some workers at a McDonald’s in Washington Heights walked off the job Friday, claiming they have been forced to work without air conditioning all summer long.

By Friday – the hottest day of a brutal heat wave that’s expected to end on Saturday — two cashiers at the store on 181st Street and Broadway had enough and walked off the job, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.

“In the middle of a heat wave like this, to be expected to stand in a hot kitchen with no air conditioning is inhumane and unsafe,” employee Jamne Izquierdo, who has worked in the store for eight years, said in a statement. “We are  human beings. We’ve told McDonalds before that the air conditioning doesn’t work and that we can’t take the heat but they don’t listen to us.  We can’t take it anymore. No one should have to work like this.”

A third cashier was taken away in an ambulance after becoming physically sick from the heat, D’Auria reported. The heat index hit 107 degrees at JFK Airport on Friday.

The employees have the support of local lawmakers.

“The workers were working under inhumane conditions, the temperature was as high as 120 degrees by the ovens,” state Sen. Adriano Espaillat said.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez sent a letter to management requesting a meeting, D’Auria reported.

“Business is important for our city, however, this is not humane,” Rodriguez said.

McDonald’s spokesman Bruce Colley released a statement saying two of the three air conditioning units in the store were fixed by late afternoon and that crews were working on repairing the third unit.

Colley said the store brought in fans and portable air conditioning units while repairs were being made and also made sure employees took frequent breaks and stayed hydrated.

“We take the well being of our employees and customers very seriously and apologize for any inconvenience and discomfort they may have experienced,” Colley said. “We are working hard to make sure that this does not happen again.”

Protesters believe the air conditioning was turned on only because news reporters and camera crews showed up.

Izquierdo said in the eight years that she has worked at the store, there has never been any air conditioning during the summertime.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)