A coalition of restaurants claims to have collected 1 million signatures to stop a labor law in California that aims to create a Labor Council, supported by the state, to set higher minimum wages and minimum working conditions for the fast food industry. This is the Save Local Restaurants organization, which intends to stop the application of this law and bring it to a referendum in 2024, in the elections of that year.
Counties will now have eight business days to provide a recount to the Secretary of State’s office. The coalition need approximately 623,000 valid signatures, but they are expected to easily exceed that number because they would have collected almost 40% more.
A pioneer law on labor issues in California
The coalition’s idea is to place a ballot in 2024 asking citizens if the law should take effect throughout California. The group is made up of major brands such as Starbucks, Chipotle and McDonald’s, which each donated $ 2 million of the total of $13.7 million that was raised for the signature collection campaign.
The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, also known as the Fast Recovery Act, or AB 257, was signed by the Californian governor, Gavin Newson, in September 2022, which aims to improve conditions for employees of fast food chains, which in the state are more than half a million.
The idea of this act is to place the minimum wage at $22 an hour in 2023, with an allowance of a 3.5% increase each subsequent year.
Similar laws are emerging across the United States, such as Seattle’s new labor standards act for domestic workers and Detroit’s proposed ordinance on wages, benefits and working conditions in all industries. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, far away from what is paid in California.
The laws in force in the Golden State
In California, the labor laws that apply to restaurants set a minimum wage of $14 per hour for workers over 25 years of age and $13 per hour for workers under 25 years of age. Workers are entitled to a 10-minute break for every 4 hours worked, and they must receive at least one day of rest a week if they work more than 30 hours in a 7-day period.
The legislation also establishes occupational health and safety standards in restaurants, including requirements for safe food handling, proper cleaning of equipment and work areas, as well as protections for workers against foodborne illnesses.
In addition, labor laws in California protect workers from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. This includes the prohibition of any type of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability or any other characteristic protected by law. Workers have the right to a work environment free from harassment and discrimination, and they can file a complaint with the California Department of Labor if they believe they have been victims of this type of conduct.
Last but not least, guidelines are set for the hiring, payment and termination of workers in restaurants. Employers must comply with all labor laws and cannot discriminate in the hiring or firing of workers. Workers have the right to receive their full salary and all the benefits to which they are entitled, and they must be dismissed fairly and reasonably.