Gov. Newsom signs bill to raise wages and working standards for fast food workers in California

Labor advocates are calling the new bill a "groundbreaking step" for low-wage workers.


Signed into law by California’s Gov. Newsom, AB 257 or the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act will soon designate minimum industry-wide standards for fast food workers, including wages, working hours, and other health, safety, and security standards. The new bill will impact restaurants in California that consist of 100 or more establishments across the United States, such as Starbucks, Chipotle, and In-N-Out.

Labor advocates are calling the new bill a “groundbreaking step” for low-wage workers.

“Today’s action gives hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table to set fair wages and critical health and safety standards across the industry,” Gov. Newsom said. “I’m proud to sign this legislation on Labor Day when we pay tribute to the workers who keep our state running as we build a stronger, more inclusive economy for all Californians.”

The bill will create a “Fast Food Council,” which will consist of 10 business, labor, and government representatives, who will be responsible for wages and working standards for fast food workers in California. Not only will they have the ability to raise minimum wages to $22 per hour, wages will continue to “increase as the consumer-price index up to a maximum of 3.5%, to account for cost-of-living adjustments over time,” Causes reported. The council will also be required to review fast food standards at least every three years and make necessary changes to health, safety, and security standards.

The bill will also effect “other companies that operate their own locations, as well as chains that use franchisees in California, like Jack in the Box and McDonald’s,” Causes reported.

The law will go into effect next year after final approval regarding wages and other standards has been issued from the state legislature and state Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

While opponents of the bill said it will increase restaurant prices and hurt small businesses, advocates believe it signals a reemergence of sectoral bargaining.

“There are a lot of laws protecting workers, but nobody is implementing or doing anything about it,” Maria Yolanda Torres, a Subway worker since 2018, said. “We are essential workers, but not treated like that. With the Fast Recovery Act, we’ll be heard.”


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