Fast food workers could get collective bargaining, better workplace standards under new legislation

If AB 257 passes, when a teenager goes into the local Taco Bell to get a job, their first, the wages and benefits will not be set by them and the employer.  Nope, the State of California will set the wage rates.  In a textbook, this is called socialism—where the State controls the means of production.

AB257 would create a Fast Food Sector Council to set minimum workplace wages, hours and standards. The 11-member council would be made up of state, business and labor representatives and housed in the Department of Industrial Relations.

The bill is backed by labor groups and opposed by restaurant and business interests.

Of course this means the Council will be two to one against the business—the State and unions will gang up on the small businesses.  Watch as these places close and the owners leave the totalitarian State to move to a free State.  But, maybe the minority groups which own a lot of these small fast food places will revolt against the Democrats who are stealing their dreams and future.

Fast food workers could get collective bargaining, better workplace standards under new legislation

Nicole Nixon, Capitol Public Radio,  8/9/22  

California’s fast food workers could get the power to collectively bargain under a bill moving through the state legislature, a measure that could drastically change the fast food and franchising industries.

AB257 would create a Fast Food Sector Council to set minimum workplace wages, hours and standards. The 11-member council would be made up of state, business and labor representatives and housed in the Department of Industrial Relations.

The bill is backed by labor groups and opposed by restaurant and business interests.

For the more than half-million fast food workers in California like Crystal Orozco, the bill would bring peace of mind that someone is fighting for their interests.

At her last job at a Jack in the Box in Folsom, Orozco said she was never afforded breaks during her graveyard shifts, since she was one of only two employees staffing the store overnight.

“Not once did I get a 30-minute or ten-minute break,” she said in an interview. “I’ve seen them straight up not pay people for hours they’d worked.”

The Carmichael resident led two strikes at the restaurant over its COVID-19 safety protocols and a broken air conditioner. She said managers threatened to call immigration authorities on a coworker who was also pushing for better working conditions.

“They want people to be blind to these laws just to make that quick buck,” Orozco said. “They can get their bonuses and we’re the ones breaking our backs for them.”

Most fast food restaurants are franchised, meaning locations are owned and operated by independent business owners, not the actual corporations whose names they carry.

Business owners sign a contract and pay certain fees to the national brand. In exchange, they get the benefit of selling well-known products – like Big Macs – and national marketing from their franchisor.

But in the debate over AB257, many franchise owners bristle at being lumped in with giant corporations and the perception that they are the ones squeezing workers while pocketing billions in revenue.

Restaurant and business groups oppose the bill, arguing it would add another layer of costs and regulation to an industry where profit margins are often razor-thin.

Leena Mann owns and operates two Sacramento-area Subways and a Del Taco with her husband and brother-in-law.

“We’re not Del Taco,” she said. “We own that flag to operate that business, but it is us behind it as small business owners that operate these businesses.”

Mann said hourly wages have increased significantly since they opened their first restaurant in 2016, when the minimum wage was $10 per hour. The family worries AB257 would add another layer of bureaucracy and make doing business even more difficult.

“If employees have any issues, they have current resources like Cal-OSHA, the Department of Industrial Relations, they also have a Labor Task Force for any issues. We are already in compliance with these agencies,” she said.

AB257 includes language that would make franchise owners and the companies they franchise from jointly liable for labor violations.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assembly Member Chris Holden, acknowledged during a committee hearing earlier this summer that many franchise owners treat their workers well.

“Those who aren’t doing the right thing aren’t going to tell their employees how to hold them accountable,” he said. “That’s why this bill is here.”

Another responsibility of the council would be to promote industry standards – or do more to make workers aware of their rights.

Holden, himself a former franchisee, says the bill would also allow business owners to file actions against agreements with companies that prevent them from meeting minimum standards for their employees.

The measure faces a key vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Rico Lagattuta says

    Fast food restaurants are no longer part time jobs for school kids . They have become livelihood jobs for families. There would be no need for unions if restaurant owners paid a fair wage.

    • fed up with CA says

      We need to ask why have they become the livelihood? Is it because of the lack of education? or the lack of other jobs being available? I see the problem being government over reach rules and regulations. The ACA basically made all part time employees lose hours by making it considered to be full time at 30 hours. Not all companies make enough money to pay high wages and benefits demanded by the gov’t. I worked for small companies all my working years. I worked in the accounting depts. and I know for a fact that the small businesses paid what they could and the owners were not even close to being considered rich. But gov’t regs have put them out of business. Fast food places are NOT to be your total support. If a living wage was to be paid, no one would be able to afford them. As it is…….. I already see the writing on the wall. I don’t go out often but the prices have gone up a lot in the recent years.

      • Richard Wahl says

        Fed Up:
        You are 100% right. We had a small business. People in bureaucratic positions, who know nothing about business, pontificate and force businesses to do what the business owners can’t do. Those airheads live in lala land and still believe in the golden geese who lay eggs. The geese who never run out of eggs.

        Obviuosly, the pin heads do not care whatsoever for the entry level workers considering the fact that they destroyed 40,000 busineses in Sillyfornia the last two years (for a virus with the same death rate as flu) putting all of those workers in the bread lines.

    • Richard Wahl says

      Rico:
      Do your homework. Chik-fil-A and In-N-Out pay good wages and publicize it at the stores.

      Some people seriously believe that entry level, low skill restaurant jobs are supposed to pay enough to support a family. They aren’t. They are made to help kids get a start in life, before they leave home and while going through college.

      I worked minimum wage jobs through college and did not whine about it. People need to grow up; quit whining; get their rears in gear and become adults. One of our sons had a first time, summer job at a fast food place during high school. In the fall, the manager wanted to move him into management. And that is how one gets ahead and succeeds. Whining is unattractive.

      High wages for unskilled, entry level work destroys the incentive to work hard, progress and move up by merit.

  2. If they make the franchisors liable – as well as the franchisees – for labor law violations, there will be NO fast-food business done in California. Watch Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and the like pull up wholesale and move out of State. California Legislators are all lawyers so by definition they are CLUELESS about how the world actually works.

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