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California Increases Minimum Wage, Protections for Fast-Food Workers

-Editorial

Alongside fast-food workers, labor leaders, and legislators, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation increasing the minimum wage for fast-food employees to $20 per hour, beginning April 1, 2024. The legislation, AB 1228 by Assemblymember Chris R. Holden (D-Pasadena), authorizes the Fast Food Council to set fast-food restaurant standards for minimum wage and develop proposals for other working conditions, including health and safety standards and training.

“California is home to more than 500,000 fast-food workers who – for decades – have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions. Today, we take one step closer to fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table,” Governor Newsom said.

Repeals and replaces provisions of the statute creating the Fast Food Council within the Department of Industrial Relations, creating a process to develop minimum fast food restaurant employment standards, related to wages, working conditions, and training – upon the withdrawal of the AB 257 referendum:

Establishes a minimum wage of $20 per hour for fast-food workers beginning April 1, 2024, and allows the council to increase this wage annually.

The annual wage increase is capped at the lesser of 3.5% or the annual increase in the US-CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

Allows the Council to develop and propose other labor, health, or safety standards for rule-making by the appropriate body.

Ensures consistency for a statewide industry wage by stating only the Council may set wages for fast food workers until January 1, 2029.

The Council and its authority sunset on January 1, 2029.

“Today, we witnessed the signing of one of the most impactful fast food wage laws that this country has ever seen,” said Assemblymember Holden. “We did not just raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour for fast food workers. We helped a father or mother feed their children, we helped a student put gas in their car, and helped a grandparent get their grandchild a birthday gift. Last month, when we were knee-deep in negotiations, hundreds of workers slept in their cars and missed paydays to come give their testimony in committee and defend their livelihood. Sacrifice, dedication and the power of a government that serves its people are what got us to this moment. My goal for AB 1228 was to bring relief and solutions where they were needed and together with my colleagues and Governor Newsom, that is what we have done. Thank you to the SEIU and all who supported this important effort. We, as a state, should be proud.”

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