California signed off a landmark new law that could pave the way for a $22 minimum wage for fast-food workers. Here's how the state's fast food council will work.

Fast-food workers lead a march to the state building on Spring Street after rally at Los Angeles City Hall to protest unsafe working conditions, and to demand a voice on the job through AB 257 Thursday June 8 2022 in Los Angeles.
The bill has garnered support from fast-food workers across the state.Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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  • California has passed legislation to create a Fast Food Council that could pave the way for a $22 minimum wage.

  • The council would create minimum standards for areas like health and safety, wages, and conditions.

  • The 10-member council would include workers, franchisees and state officials.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed off a landmark new law that could pave the way for a $22 minimum hourly wage for fast-food workers in the state.

The bill allows the creation of a 10-member Fast Food Council at the state's Department of Industrial Relations to set minimum standards for workers in the industry, ranging from wages and training to health and safety, and protection from discrimination and harassment. This would cover workers at chains including McDonald's, Starbucks, Burger King, and Subway.

"For years, the fast food sector has been rife with abuse, low pay, few benefits, and minimal job security, with California workers subject to high rates of employment violations, including wage theft, sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as heightened health and safety risks," the bill says.

"Fast food workers are the largest and fastest growing group of low-wage workers in the state and lack sector-specific protections," it continues.

The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, which covers fast-food chains with at least 100 restaurants nationally, stipulates that the minimum wage set by the council for 2023 "shall not be greater than" $22 an hour. After that, it can be adjusted for inflation with increases of up to 3.5% each year.

hiring sign $500 bonus mcdonalds
A hiring sign offers a $500 bonus outside a McDonalds restaurant, in Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pa., Wednesday, May 5, 2021.AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

California currently has a minimum wage of $15 an hour for companies with 26 or more workers.

To come into effect, at least 10,000 fast-food restaurant employees in the state would have to sign a petition approving the creation of the council.

The council would have to hold public meetings at least every six months and conduct a full review of the fast-food restaurant health, safety, and employment standards at least every three years and issue or amend standards as appropriate.

It would be made up of one representative from the Department of Industrial Relations, two representatives each of fast-food franchisors and franchisees, two representatives each of fast-food workers and of their advocates, and one representative from the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development.

Newsom would appoint a chair, and council members would get $100 each day they attend a meeting or perform other official business for it, as well as travel expenses.

Californian counties and cities with more than 200,000 residents would also be able to establish a Local Fast Food Council.

The council's purposes would be to "establish sectorwide minimum standards on wages, working hours, and other working conditions," including training and health and safety standards.

Restaurant workers have been quitting their jobs at record rates during the pandemic, with many citing poor wages, a lack of benefits, rude customers, long hours, and a lack of protection from the coronavirus.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the implications for workers and the public when a disempowered workforce faces a crisis in a sector with a poor history of compliance with workplace health and safety regulations," the bills says.

It points to a lack access to personal protective equipment, workers being denied sick pay, and fast-food failing to inform workers of exposure to COVID-19 or covering up cases.

The bill was first proposed in January 2021 by Democratic Assembly member Chris Holden and is cosponsored by the Service Employees International Union of California.

Some franchisees, restaurant trade associations, and right-wing politicians have opposed the bill, questioning why it excludes chains with fewer than 100 restaurants and saying it will drive up menu prices.

Read the original article on Business Insider