Gov. Newsom signs bill into law creating a council to oversee fast food industry wages and protections

Don Simkovich

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Gov. Gavin Newsom says FAST is part of California's growth and inclusion strategy;screenshot of Office of the Governor of California Twitter account

On Labor Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law aimed at giving workers in the fast-food industry great protections and the possibility of higher pay. Restaurant owners opposed California Assembly Bill 257 and say prices of fast food will go up and offset gains.

There are 500,000 fast food industry workers in California. The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST) by Assemblyman Chris Holden will create a 10-member Fast Food Council comprised of representatives from labor and management to set minimum standards for workers in the industry.

Necessary or Reckless Law?

Rationale in the bill’s text says that, “For years, the fast food sector has been rife with abuse, low pay, few benefits, and minimal job security.”

The California Restaurant Association says the bill is "reckless" during a time of record inflation and will result in a 20% increase to consumers to pay for an unelected bureaucracy.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that a late amendment capped any minimum wage increase for fast food workers at chains with more than 100 restaurants at $22 an hour next year, compared with the statewide minimum of $15.50 an hour, with cost of living increases thereafter.

Holden and the bill’s signers claim that “fast food companies have profited during the pandemic, while California’s one-half million fast food workers have been hard hit, both medically and financially.”

Power in an Appointed Council

Protections and standards established will include wages, conditions related to health and safety, security in the workplace, the right to take time off from work for protected purposes and protection from discrimination and harassment.

The 10 members of the council will be appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee, and would prescribe its powers. The council will be more powerful than other state agencies in setting rules for the fast food industry and the council’s rules will be upheld if a conflict in standards exists with another state agency.

A full review of the adequacy of minimum fast food restaurant health, safety, and employment standards will take place at least once every 3 years.

In a video statement on Twitter, Gov. Newsom says the bill is part of California's growth and inclusion formula, making the state the fifth largest economy in the world.

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I interview entrepreneurs, and dig into the news around Southern California, giving a voice to business owners, artists and more. I also co-write the thriller novel series Tom Stone Detective Stories.

Pasadena, CA
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