A hard-fought victory for fast restaurant workers and union organizers is being celebrated in California with the increase in the minimum wage for these workers.
In Los Angeles, California, Service Employees International Union members and fast food workers chanted “when we fight, we win” as Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Thursday raising the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour and establishing a council that can approve future increases. The state’s current minimum wage is $15.50 per hour, but on January 1 it will rise to $16.
On April 1st of the following year, the new hourly rate for fast-food employees will go into effect. Applicants must be staff members of fast food chains with at least 60 outlets nationwide.
The creation of a nine-person fast food council, comprised of two representatives from the fast food industry, two representing franchisee groups or restaurant owners, two representing employees, two from groups that support employees, and one from the general public, is a crucial component of the law.
The council is permitted to raise the minimum hourly wage for fast food employees annually from 2025 to 2029 by no more than 3.5% or the yearly change in the consumer price index (a federal government indicator of inflation and prices of products), whichever is less. Only the council may determine fast food workers’ salaries during that time. The council is only permitted by statute until 2029.
The council may also recommend other labor, health or safety standards for consideration to appropriate governing bodies.