A novel California law that empowers an unelected council to set both wages and working conditions at fast food restaurants is facing fierce opposition from wealthy business and restaurant lobbyists. State labor unions want to protect the law, which they say is the most significant win for organized labor in decades.
The blowback is primarily coming from national business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which are seeking not only to see the law overturned in California, but to block similar movements in other states.
As our Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain, California has positioned itself as a leader in labor rights, particularly over the last few years. Lawmakers here have enacted one worker protection measure after another, and other state union and worker lobbyists have been closely watching these developments, analyzing which may work in their own regions. Political analysts are predicting these measures could soon take root in other states, particularly those majority-controlled by Democrats.
Per the U.S. Department of Labor explains that fast food workers are entitled to:
- Minimum wage.
- Overtime protections under the FLSA.
- Food credits (employers can take credit for food provided at cost, but cannot take credit for discounts given to employees on food menu prices).
- Special protections if they are minors. Those ages 14-15 can’t work more than 3 hours in a day or 18 hours in a school week. They can’t start work before 7 a.m. or clock out after 7 p.m. They are limited in the types of jobs they can do. Those who are 16 or 17 cannot perform hazardous jobs (primarily in fast food involves meat processing machines, commercial mixers, power-driven bakery machines, but also includes assignments for time-sensitive deliveries). ‘
California’s new law takes these benefits a step further.
Sweeping Protections for California Fast Food Workers
Historically, employees in the fast food industry have been sorely lacking in workplace protections. One recent Harvard study found that California fast food industry workers are on average paid $3 less per hour than workers in similar sector jobs in the state. Further, because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of the industry, many workers involuntarily get part-time schedules.
The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (also known as the FAST Recovery Act), was signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on Labor Day. Sponsors of the law say the goal is to set certain baseline standards for the treatment of fast food workers – about 500,000 in this state alone, many of them women and people of color. These include certain health and safety rules, minimum wage regulations, and enforcement of employer violations. Continue Reading ›