Last week, the internet was abuzz with chatter and outrage over a viral video out of—where else—Florida. In this latest episode of Shocking Crimes Florida Man Committed, we see a 40-year-old customer named Daniel Taylor reach across a McDonald’s register counter to grab onto the front of employee Yasmine James’s shirt collar. She fights back by punching his arms and upper body, but he doesn't let go until several other employees successfully separate them.
Allegedly, the incident started over a straw. A city-wide ordinance for St. Petersburg dictates that plastic straws are only given to customers who specifically request them. Apparently that made Taylor get Big Mad, which is why he launched himself over the counter at the 20-year-old fast food worker. According to police, the angry customer also kicked another McDonald's employee in the stomach as he was being escorted out of the restaurant. The video was posted to Facebook by witness Brenda Biandudi on New Year’s Eve and gained millions of views when it was shared by digital magazine Atlanta Black Star, before being shared by dozens of other news outlets.
Now, in response to the incident, Florida’s Fight for $15 campaign organizers have planned a coordinated strike of fast food workers on Tuesday, January 8th, according to an Associated Press report. In a handful cities across the state, the minimum wage advocacy group has organized for several dozen employees to walk out during tomorrow's lunch rush in solidarity with James. They’re calling for McDonald’s to better train its employees on handling violence in the work place, as well as providing “protection and a voice on the job for its predominantly Black and Latinx women workforce [sic],” according to a press release.
“I’m going on strike because at McDonald’s, we’re subjected to all types of behavior that has no place at work – from physical attacks and armed robberies, to sexual harassment, and racial discrimination,” Gail Rogers, a McDonald’s employee, said in the organization’s press release. “We won’t back down until McDonald’s takes responsibility for protecting all workers on the job.”
Fight for $15 is involved in ongoing efforts to get a constitutional amendment on the state's 2020 ballot that would increase the minimum wage in Florida by one dollar a year from 2021 to 2026 until it reaches $15. As part of the organization’s mission to improve working conditions for employees in low-paying jobs, they periodically champion causes endemic to industries plagued by low wages, like workplace safety and harassment.
MUNCHIES has reached out to McDonald’s for a comment on the incident in St. Petersburg and on the planned strike, but has not received a response. We’ll update this post if we hear back from them.