Column: I’ve worked at McDonald’s for 11 years. We deserve better working conditions.

September 14, 2021 9:23 am

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In Detroit, the average temperature last month was 80 degrees. Now add the heat radiating from a hot stove, humidity, wearing a face mask for safety during the pandemic and physical exertion. It feels like I’m in an oven at the Detroit McDonald’s where I work. 

I have worked at as a crew member for 11 years and make $10.50 per hour. I work at one of the McDonald’s where workers walked out last month because it was too hot. We went viral on TikTok for highlighting health and safety issues that many fast food workers go through on a daily basis. In the video you can see me and other coworkers standing side by side in our demand for better working conditions. 

The air conditioning in my store has been running all summer, but it’s not blowing out cold air. If you aren’t in the vicinity of the air vents, it will not help you cool off. When I have brought this issue up to managers in the past, some of their responses were, “Are you going through menopause because it’s not that hot in here?”


@mcdonalds needs to step up. We are done working in these terrible conditions. #Fightfor15 #unionsforall #heat #fastfood #fastfoodworkers #worklife

♬ original sound – Raise Up for $15

Instead of fixing the air conditioning, McDonald’s just provided workers with big cups of ice water. This response shows that fast food companies don’t care to address these problems. It shouldn’t be so hot in the store that workers are afraid of passing out from heat exhaustion. That’s why workers decided to strike and it wasn’t the first heat strike that workers in my store have participated in. Last summer, we also spoke out and we will continue to speak out until we see change.  

As a leader in the Detroit Fight for $15 and a Union, I am calling on city leaders to pass an ordinance to establish industry standards boards. This process would give workers more power to hold corporations like McDonald’s accountable and help win the things we need, like better health and safety standards and training.

An industry standards board would bring workers and employers to the table to discuss issues that impact our workplaces and our communities, and give working people the ability to help shape our future.

After the year we’ve had, we cannot go on like this. Our families and communities deserve better. When workers have a seat at the table, we can build a Detroit that works for all people, no exceptions.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Robbie Cochran
Robbie Cochran

Robbie Cochran is a mother of three who lives with her family in Detroit. She has worked for McDonald's for 11 years and has continued to work on the front lines throughout the pandemic. Five years ago, she joined the Fight for $15 and a Union to fight for a better future for herself, her family and her fellow workers.