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Voters To Decide Fate Of Fast Food Bill That Could Raise Wages For Workers

Protesters stand outside wearing red shirts and masks and carry signs in favor of AB257.
Fast-food workers and other SEIU members marched to the Capitol to deliver postcards and petitions in support of AB257 to the Governor's Office on May 31, 2022.
(Fred Greaves for CalMatters)
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A California law that would improve working conditions and hourly pay for fast food workers is now on hold after restaurant groups gathered over 1 million signatures in the petition process.

Why it matters: Mysheka Ronquillo works at a Long Beach Carl's Jr. She says she’s been subject to wage theft, discrimination and low pay through her 10 years working in the fast food industry. "I don’t have no pension. I don’t have no 401k…what am I working for? What happens when I die? You’re just going to replace me with someone else. They don’t care. We’re just a number.”

What's at stake for restaurant owners: The National Restaurant Association’s Mike Whatley says the bill could raise prices as high as 20% for small fast food restaurants that are independently operated. He says, “it's a misnomer that all fast food are these giant corporations. The vast majority of these locations are small business owners who may have one or two or a couple locations with really low margins.”

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The backstory: Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fast Recovery Act into law in September. It would establish a 10-member council of employers, workers and union representatives to oversee workplace conditions and set wages up to $22 an hour. But a coalition of restaurant groups immediately began the signature-collecting process to challenge the law.

What's next: Now voters will decide in Novemeber whether Assembly Bill 257 or the Fast Recovery Act will go into effect in 2024.

Go Deeper: Newsom Signs Bill To Regulate Wages For Fast Food Workers