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California law gives fast-food workers more rights, protections

Sept. 6, 2022 Updated Tue., Sept. 6, 2022 at 6:26 p.m.

A small order of french fries is arranged for a photograph at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Phoenix on Oct. 21, 2017.  (Caitlan O'Hara/Bloomberg )
A small order of french fries is arranged for a photograph at a McDonald’s fast food restaurant in Phoenix on Oct. 21, 2017. (Caitlan O'Hara/Bloomberg )
By Martine Paris Bloomberg Bloomberg

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the fast-food recovery act into law, giving restaurant-chain employees more input over wages and working conditions even after strong protests from the industry.

The law, known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, will establish a council of fast-food workers, employers and state representatives to consult on workplace standards.

And, it bolsters discrimination and harassment protections, among other things, according to a statement from the governor’s office on Monday.

The legislation 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,’’ Newsom said.

Industry groups that opposed the bill includes the International Franchise Association, whose board includes executives from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Papa John’s.

“This bill is a fork in the eye to franchise owners and customers at a time when it hurts the most,” IFA Chief Executive Officer Matthew Haller said in a statement.

Restaurant prices may increase by as much as 20% because of the changes, according to the IFA, citing research from UC Riverside.

A study by Harvard Kennedy School and UC San Francisco showed that wages for California’s fast-food workers hover around $16.21 an hour, or 85 cents on the dollar compared with other service sector workers in the state.

AB 257 could raise wages as high as $22 an hour next year for chains with 100 or more locations across the U.S. It’s the first U.S. law of its kind, leading the way for other states.

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