A California law aimed at raising wages and improving working conditions for fast-food workers has been struck down for the time being, after state officials said an effort by major restaurant and trade groups to overturn the law had been called a measure in next year’s election.
The referendum to strike down Assembly Bill 257 has garnered enough valid voter signatures, the office of California Secretary of State Shirley Weber certified Tuesday. The business group supporting the effort, called Save Local Restaurants, had until Dec. 5 to submit about 623,000 signatures from California voters. Supporters submitted more than a million signatures, of which more than 712,000 were deemed valid, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The announcement means the law, also known as the Fast Recovery Act, approved last year by the Legislative Assembly, is on hold until California voters decide in the November 2024 ballot whether to repeal or not the law.
AB 257 sought to create a one-of-a-kind council of workers, businesses, franchisees, and government officials with a mandate to set wages and other labor standards statewide.
If the law had come into effect on January 1 as planned, the council would have had the power to increase the minimum hourly wage for fast food workers to as much as $22 this year.
Union rights advocates said the legislation could transform collective bargaining, setting a precedent in the United States for negotiating workplace standards. The coalition of businesses opposed to the law, led by the International Franchise Assn. and the National Restaurant Assn., argued that the law would impose higher labor costs on businesses and raise food prices.
Fast food companies and trade groups including In-N-Out, Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, McDonald’s, Starbucks and the National Restaurant Assn. donated millions to support the referendum effort, according to the nonpartisan Fair Political Practices Commission.
Save Local Restaurants launched its costly signature-raising campaign to end the law almost immediately after Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 257 on Labor Day.
The process of collecting signatures was difficult. Service Employees International Union California, which co-sponsored AB 257 and opposed the referendum campaign, the alleged signatures were fraudulently obtained and filed complaints in October with the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices for request an action.
Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said fast food workers and the union are determined to continue to pressure AB 257. “No company is more powerful than half a million workers. who come together to demand a place at the table,” Henry said in an emailed statement.
International Franchise Assn. Chief executive Matt Haller said in a statement: “Thankfully, more than a million Californians have spoken out to stop this misguided policy from driving up food prices and destroying local businesses and jobs. they create.”
The Save Local Restaurants Coalition did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Los Angeles Times