“Fast food companies have profited during the pandemic, while California’s one-half million fast food workers have been hard hit,” the bill states. “Despite corporate profits, fast food workers are poorly positioned to participate in a fast recovery and a more equitable economy.”
If approved, the law would pave the way for a number of changes to the industry in the state. The council could decide to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers up to $22 per hour. And it would allow employees to work together across brands, giving them a better shot at advocating for rights.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has until September 30 to sign the bill into law, if he chooses.
“California’s approach targets some workplaces and not others,” he said. “This lopsided, hypocritical and ill-considered legislation hurts everyone.”
Erlinger called the situation a “cautionary tale,” and said it “would be terrible” if other states followed California’s lead.
As the organizing efforts grow, proposals of the bill are cheering its progress.
The bill’s passage “is a crucial step forward to addressing California’s ongoing crises of racial and economic inequality,” David Huerta, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council, said in a statement, pointing to the fact that the majority of fast food workers in California are Black or Latino. “We know the systemic issues workers in this industry face, and the only way to address them is to give cooks and cashiers a real seat at the table with their employers,” he said.
“The passage of AB 257 is the most significant advance in workers’ fight for fairness on the job in a generation,” said SEIU president Mary Kay Henry. “Workers from coast to coast are stepping into their power.”