California fast food workers will be paid at least $20 per hour next year under a new law signed Thursday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
They will have among the highest minimum wages in the country when the law takes effect on April 1, according to the University of California-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
California Poverty Measure
The state’s minimum wage for all other workers – $15.50 per hour – is already among the highest in the United States.
Cheering fast food workers and labor leaders gathered around Newsom as he signed the bill at at the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles.
‘This is a big deal,’ Newsom said.
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.
The industry, meanwhile, has agreed to pull a referendum related to worker wages off the 2024 ballot.
‘This is for my ancestors. This is for all the farm works, all the cotton-pickers. This is for them. We ride on their shoulders,’ said Anneisha Williams, who works at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Southern California.
California’s fast food workers earn an average of $16.60 per hour, or just over $34,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s below the California Poverty Measure for a family of four, a statistic calculated by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Equality that accounts for housing costs and publicly-funded benefits.