Quick-service restaurant chains make last-ditch push to kill California’s Fast Act


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Fast food chains operating in California are lobbying Governor Gavin Newsom to veto a bill that gives the state’s fast food workers a big role in setting their own wages and working conditions.

Without an AB 257 veto by the governor, quick service operators face the possibility of a short-term jump in the state’s minimum wage to $22 an hour, with the level raised by 3 .5% or the cost of living each year thereafter, whichever is lower.

Employers may also be required to make changes to their operations or the physical layout of their restaurants to address employee and union safety concerns.

The International Franchise Association, one of the groups lobbying the governor, warned that pressure on margins will force limited-service restaurants to raise menu prices by 20% and cut jobs.

“Governor. Newsom must veto this bill – it’s not the way to help workers, consumers or businesses thrive,” Alex Johnson, a franchisee of 11 fast food restaurants, said in a statement. a statement released by an opposition coalition called Stop AB 257.

Advocates argue the measure is necessary to protect fast food workers from possible injury and being denied or defrauded of reasonable pay by unscrupulous employers

“We look forward to Governor Newsom signing AB 257 and empowering us to create safe and healthy workplaces in the fast food industry,” Anneisha Williams, an employee at a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles, said in a statement from the union Fight for $15 and a Union.

Proponents of AB 257 claim franchisees like Johnson are pawns of multibillion-dollar franchise organizations, while opponents accuse proponents of unwitting dupes of unions, who also allegedly have a say in fixing wages and working conditions in fast food restaurants.

The first legislation of its kind, also known as the Fast Act, was passed by the state Senate on Monday. The state Assembly passed a slightly different version in January, then passed the Senate changes late Monday night.

A key provision of the bill is the creation of a stakeholders’ council with the power to set salaries and the do’s and don’ts of management. The mandates would be binding on any California unit of a chain with at least 100 branches nationwide (see our chart for the other components of the two bills.)

The bill authorizes the creation of a similar wage-setting board for any community of at least 200,000 people.

Two of the 10 seats on the panel will be reserved for fast-food workers and two others for union representatives.

Two other places will be allocated to restaurant franchisees and two others to franchisor representatives.

The last two places would be awarded to state officials.

The board would be empowered to meet and review fast food pay equity twice a year.

A veto could be fast food employers’ last chance to defeat the Fast Act. Final legislation will go to the governor, who can either sign it or reject it by sending it back to the legislature.

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