Fast food costs likely to rise under law to boost workers’ wages

Yes, your burger and fries will likely cost more in the future, under a recently approved bill to improve wages and working conditions in the fast food industry in a major state.

However, the measure faces significant industry pushback and is likely to be the subject of legal battles for months or years.

The law creates a 10-member statewide panel made up of fast food industry representatives, workers and government appointees to set minimum wage and training standards for the industry.

Among other measures, this would allow the panel to set minimum wages in the industry up to $22 an hour.

Efforts by local governments to raise pay rates for low-wage workers have continued to have a significant influence in the past.

In 2014, Seattle passed a bill raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. While critics scoffed at the metric at the time, the $15 an hour figure became a popular benchmark in many cities and some states.

However, the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour, where it has been since 2009.

Bill would help over 500,000 people

The state’s latest legislation bill was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month.

In a statement, he said the measure will give “fast food workers a stronger voice and a seat at the table to set fair wages and essential health and safety standards across the industry.” “.

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More than 500,000 people would be employed in the fast food industry in the state, according to the bill’s supporters.

Restaurant industry groups have already launched a signature campaign for a ballot measure to overturn the law, Dan Walters of Cal Matters recently pointed out.

The International Franchise Association said in a statement that the measure could “raise prices by up to 20% for customers in California restaurants”.

He also asserts that the franchise business model “represents a key pathway to realizing the American dream while generating jobs, income, and opportunity for their immediate communities.”

The National Restaurant Association said in a statement that the law “threatens businesses already facing a 16% increase in wholesale food prices and continuing supply chain challenges.”

The California Department of Finance’s review of the legislation said the bill “creates significant ongoing costs” for the state’s industrial relations department. In addition, it creates a sector-specific regulatory body within the DIR, which could lead to a fragmented regulatory and legal environment for employers and increase long-term costs across all sectors.”

Industry groups have until December to collect the more than 600,000 signatures needed to qualify their measure for the 2024 ballot.

Previous California state laws aimed at benefiting workers have seen a similar industry setback, most notably in the case of Uber. (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) Drivers. The state passed a law to classify them as employees rather than contractors.

However, the ride-sharing companies won approval for their ballot measure overturning the law in 2020 after spending tens of millions on the campaign. But the issue is now caught up in appeals from state and federal courts.

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