In a TikTok that has now received over 1.5 million views, a former Wendy’s employee detailed the saga that he says led to him and 17 of his coworkers to quit on the same day, a trend becoming all-too-familiar as the Great Resignation continues to whittle down the workforce.
Low-wage workers have historically received the short end of the stick from employers, who often neglect to give their lowest-paid workers sick pay or health benefits. But as the pandemic placed workers’ health at risk for long hours and little pay, workers began to take dramatic action and quit en masse.
The TikTok user, who goes by the name mintjuul.666, said that during the pandemic he lost his assistant general manager, general manager and six coworkers while he worked as a shift manager. In the video, he said that he was promoted to an assistant general manager position and took on 85-hour work weeks with no days off to keep the store up and running, making $14.77 an hour.
“One day I just came in and said, ‘I’ve had enough,’” he said in the TikTok. He then said that he and his coworkers decided to quit, closing the store at 8 p.m. and taping a paper sign to the drive-thru intercom that read “We Quit.”
Wendy’s did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment. TikTok user mintjuul.666 did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
This isn’t the first example of a mass quitting by fast food employees. Earlier this month, almost a dozen McDonald’s employees in Bradford, Pennsylvania walked out, tired of their $9.25 hourly wage and 60-hour work weeks. In July, eight members of a 13-person staff at a Lincoln, Nebraska, Burger King quit after management neglected to address the building’s broken air conditioning and understaffing issues.
While the pandemic has led millions of workers to leave their jobs in search of better pay and work-life balance, food service and retail industries are losing workers at the highest rates. A staggering 863,000 food service workers quit their jobs in September alone, according to the Labor Department.
Employers have scrambled to keep up with the labor shortage. Hourly wages for fast food workers rose by 14% last year, but it still wasn’t enough to keep fast-food chains running like they were pre-pandemic. Chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Popeyes have been forced to reduce operating hours in certain locations.
During Wendy’s recent third quarter earnings call in November, CEO Todd Penagor acknowledged the effects that understaffing has had on the company.
“We’re starting to see staffing improve but still not to the level that we need it to be to really drive all the opportunity that’s out there in front of us,” said Penagor. “And that’s going to take a little bit of time because that labor market is not going to snap back overnight.”
TikTok user mintjuul.666 shared that as his store continued to lose workers and he took on more responsibilities, there was little guidance from higher-ups. “No upper management helped me at all throughout those three months,” he said in the video. “I was by myself. I did it all alone.”
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