Waffle House worker says she had to go to the ER after working 17-hour shifts

@raiseupthesouth/TikTok Ken Wolter/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Waffle House worker says she had to go to the ER after working 17-hour shifts

'I ended up with a kidney infection.'


Jack Alban


Posted on Jul 15, 2023

The Union of Southern Service Workers has released a video chronicling a Waffle House employee who claims that she was hospitalized due to working consecutive 17-hour shift days at the chain.

The TikTok video comes from the organization’s account, @raiseupthesouth, and since it was published on Tuesday, has drawn more than 877,000 views.

In the video, which appears to capture a rally organized by the USSW, the worker says, “I was working 17-hour shifts back-to-back. This ended up leaving a toll on me and taking me to the ER. I ended up with a kidney infection and it was so serious to the point that I ended up on morphine.”

@raiseupthesouth Replying to @Alex No one should have to go to the ER because you’re so understaffed you can’t take proper breaks to minimally take care of yourself. @Waffle House workers are demanding the multi-billion dollar corporation take our health and safety seriously. Summer Schoolmeester-Cochran, Waffle House worker #OrganizeTheSouth #UnionsForAll #WaffleHouse #Strike #HealthAndSafety #Unions #UnionStrong #Work #Worklife #WaffleHouseWorker ♬ Drifting【Free×Drill】 – GiveMeFive

She explained, “The reason I ended up getting a kidney infection is because I was not given the proper time to use a restroom or be able to go get something to eat. We need Waffle House to stop understaffing. Most nights I could be the only server while other shifts are having two to five servers left to do everything by myself. This is not safe, nor healthy for me or Waffle House.”

The TikTok went viral shortly after news broke that Waffle House workers at a Columbia, South Carolina, location went on strike for what they’ve described as unfair and oftentimes dangerous working conditions, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.

The outlet wrote, “Employees have described dangerous and threatening working conditions at the store, which is located in a city with one of the highest crime rates in America, with employees experiencing customers throwing cups of salt and sugar at them. One customer described a belligerent customer brandishing a knife on her.”

Other workers have complained about meal deductions being taken out of their checks, even if they don’t eat a meal during their shift due to not having the time to do so while they’re on the clock.

One Waffle House employee, in a viral tweet that been shared over 3,100 times on the social media application, shouted “put some respect on my check” as they joined other protesters outside as they call for what changes to employee policies at the popular dine-in chain.

The demonstrations appear to be an initiative orchestrated by the Union of Southern Service Workers, which claims that negotiations with the restaurant brand have not been amenable. The result of their talks is what purportedly prompted the Waffle House workers’ decision to strike in the area.

A number of TikTokers who saw the clip posted by USSW expressed sympathy with the striking employees.

One observed, “Waffle house employees are always some of the kindest people, I hope they get better pay/treatment out of this.”

Another remarked that they too had health complications during their time working in the food service industry as a result of working back-to-back overtime shifts.

“I worked food service and had this exact thing happen!” that person testified. “10-17 hours a day, bladder infection, COVID, both ears infected, at the SAME TIME. No breaks!”

Another referenced how Waffle House establishments sometimes have employees taking up double duties while on the clock: “i just saw a video of this guy working at waffle house who had to be both the server and cook for a few hours. he was completely alone in there”

But someone else said that the subject of overworking isn’t one endemic to the food service industry: “I was working 80+ a week at a start up.. I remember my old manger slept at the warehouse. Companies need to be held accountable”

The Daily Dot has reached out to USSW via Instagram DM and Waffle House via email.

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*First Published: Jul 15, 2023, 5:14 pm CDT