Publish date: September 15, 2022
“There were colleagues of mine who fainted. I attribute it to the suffocating heat. And the manager knew about it and she said, ‘Well, Mauricio, I told the owner, but he isn’t doing anything.’
I shouted, ‘This is a branch of hell. It’s not a branch, I think it’s actually hell in here.’ And nobody said anything. Nothing was resolved.
It was a very hard situation to withstand those extreme temperatures, for all of us. Even before I knew about the Fight for $15 movement, I was speaking up. I don’t know why — maybe because I was fed up.”
—Mauricio Juarez, Episode 33: Here Comes Mau
Climate change in California has increasingly led to deadly wildfires, heat waves, and droughts. In the summer of 2021, fast-food workers like Mauricio Juarez were forced to endure record temperatures in addition to navigating challenging work conditions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of the fast-food industry operates on a franchise system that exacerbates labor violations,” says Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center Research Director and Re:Work Producer. “Issues range from wage theft to violence and safety concerns, and most recently, our research has shown that fast-food workers have been at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in their public-facing jobs.”
In Here Comes Mau, the latest episode from the UCLA Labor Center podcast, Re:Work, Mauricio Juarez shares his journey from working in the silver mines in Taxco, Mexico, to working in fast-food in San Diego in his sixties and becoming part of the Fight for $15.
“My mother worked in fast-food, and I also have researched the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mauricio really breaks down the issues fast-food workers are facing but also lifts up workers’ agency and the power of organizing,” says Monica Macias, UCLA Labor Center Research Analyst who conducted the Re:Work interview with Mauricio. “Mauricio’s resilience shines through his story, from enduring hardship during his childhood to standing up against injustice in the workplace. La lucha sigue, the fight continues.”
To learn more about the fast-food industry, please check out our recent reports in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program, and the UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program:
This episode was produced by special guest producer Monica Macias, Veena Hampapur, and Saba Waheed. Listen at reworkradio.org or your favorite podcast platform:
The episode is also available on YouTube: