The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, aims to improve conditions for employees in the fast-food industry.
According to the legislation, the bill will create a Fast Food Council responsible for improving wages, health and safety measures and protections from harassment and discrimination.
The Fast Food Council, part of California’s Department of Industrial Relations, will be composed of fast-food workers, their representatives and state officials, the legislation stated. The bill also requires the council to review whether or not fast-food restaurants are meeting the requirements set for them at least once every three years.
“California is committed to ensuring that the men and women who have helped build our world-class economy are able to share in the state’s prosperity,” Gov. Newsom said in a press release. “I’m proud to sign this legislation on Labor Day when we pay tribute to the workers who keep our state running as we build a stronger, more inclusive economy for all Californians.”
Aligned with Gov. Newsom’s goal to set fair wages for fast-food employees, the bill will raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $22 an hour.
Some intended beneficiaries of this bill have voiced concerns about its potential impact. A supervisor at a Berkeley Taco Bell, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of reproach from the Taco Bell Corporation, felt that a wage increase could cause negative ripple effects.
“They should be able to pay their bills,” the supervisor said. “As soon as the minimum wage goes up, all of the rents go up … It’s a good thing, but it can also have a diverse effect. You can end up back in the same boat.”
The supervisor, who has been a Taco Bell employee since age 17, said that as soon as the minimum wage increases, items such as groceries and rent could also increase. Eventually, they added, the benefits of higher wages will effectively be canceled out.
The bill encompasses many complexities for fast-food workers in California, they noted.
“The more you make, the more they’re going to take,” the supervisor said.