California Legislature Approves Fast Food Workers Bill

The bill would create a new 10-member Fast Food Council with equal numbers of worker and employer representatives and two state officials.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers on Monday pushed ahead with state-led measures to give more than half a million fast food workers more power and protection. This is in response to objections from restaurant owners who warn it will drive up costs for consumers.

The measure would create a new 10-member First Party, equal numbers of workers and employers’ representatives, and two state employees empowered to set minimum standards for wages, hours, and working conditions in California. Create a Food Council.

The amendment would limit minimum wage increases for fast-food workers at chains with more than 100 restaurants to $22 next year, compared to the statewide minimum wage of $15.50 an hour, and after that, the cost of living would increase. rise.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 21 to 12, with no votes surpassing the bipartisan opposition. This will send it to Congress for final action before lawmakers adjourn Wednesday. Members of Congress previously narrowly passed a broader version of the bill.

The debate was split along party lines, with three Democrats voting against the bill and several not voting, although Republicans opposed.

Democratic Senator Maria Elena Durazo, who introduced the bill in the Senate, called it “innovative and drawing the industry and workers to the table.” She called it “a very balanced way of dealing with both employers, franchisees and workers.”

Nearly all Republican senators, including Senator Brian Dahl, who is also the Republican gubernatorial nominee for November, voiced their opposition.

“This is a stepping stone to unionize all these workers. Ultimately, it will drive up the cost of the products they offer,” Dahle said. he later added: You can quit at any time, and if your employer doesn’t like it, you can take a job somewhere else. “

Restaurant owners and franchisors say the law will increase costs for consumers, citing analysis commissioned by the University of California, Riverside Center for Economic Forecasting and Development. Gavin Newsom’s administration also fears the move will create a “fragmented regulatory and legal environment.”

The debate has gained national attention, including on Capitol Hill, where Democratic Rep. Law Khanna has expressed hope of sparking similar efforts elsewhere.

It’s “one of the most important employment laws passed in a generation,” says Kate Andreas, a labor law expert at Columbia Law School. A voice in their working conditions. “

The bill was born out of a union movement to raise the minimum wage and, Andreas said, “will work in tandem with traditional union organizations to give more workers a say in working conditions.” said.

Matthew Haller, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, countered that the law was “a discriminatory measure aimed at targeting franchise business models and strengthening the ranks of unions.” did.

Organizations representing Asian, black and LGBTQ businesses wrote to senators on Monday, arguing that the measure would harm minority owners and workers.

Watch more on ABC10: Live Interview: California fast food workers strike for better wages and working conditions

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