SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A new law in California will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to US$20 per hour next year, an acknowledgment from the state’s Democratic leaders that most of the often overlooked workforce are the primary earners for their low-income households.
When it takes effect on April 1, fast food workers in California will have the highest guaranteed base salary in the industry. The state’s minimum wage for all other workers — $15.50 per hour — is already among the highest in the United States.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law Thursday amid a throng of cheering workers and labor leaders at an event in Los Angeles. Newsom dismissed the popular view that fast food jobs are meant for teenagers to have their first experience in the workforce.
“That’s a romanticized version of a world that doesn’t exist,” Newsom said. “We have the opportunity to reward that contribution, reward that sacrifice, and stabilize an industry.”
Newsom’s signature reflects the power and influence of labor unions in the nation’s most populous state, which have worked to organize fast-food workers in an attempt to improve their wages and working conditions.
It also settles — for now, at least — a fight between labor and business groups over how to regulate the industry. In exchange for higher pay, labor unions have dropped their attempt to make fast food corporations liable for the misdeeds of their independent franchise operators in California, an action that could have upended the business model on which the industry is based. (AP)