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Gov. Newsom Signs Sweeping Calif. Fast Food Worker Bill

    Gov. Newsom Signs Sweeping Calif. Fast Food Worker Bill
    Last updated: 3 months ago
    Image credit: AP [via USA Today]

    Facts

    • On Mon., Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into a law supporting more than 500K fast food workers, despite opposition from restaurant owners. [1]
    • The law, known as AB 257, creates a 'Fast Food Council' responsible for regulating pay and working conditions for employees in the sector. [2]
    • The new 10-person council would be made up of fast-food employees and would have the power to raise the minimum wage at chains that have over 100 branches in the U.S., including McDonald's, up to $22 per hour. [3]
    • AB 257 - formally titled the 'Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act' - would also raise wages annually by either 3.5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. [4]
    • Franchise lobbying did succeed in diluting some measures of the bill including excluding the council's authority over sick leave standards and health and safety in stores. [4]
    • The bill will shift the state closer to a model of 'sectoral bargaining,' whereby workers negotiate on an industry-wide basis. [5]
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    Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    This is a threat to consumers and the industry at large. Fast food workers are already paid significantly better than many other workers at a similar skill level. Forcing wages up will only push prices up, threaten business, and negatively affect many people seeking to enter the workforce.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    This is a triumph for employment rights. Workers are increasingly struggling to make ends meet, and the persistent threat of poverty became apparent for many during the pandemic. The balance of power is rightly shifting back to employees who have been given a collective voice.

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