Fast food workers and labor advocates in California scored a major victory on Sept. 5 when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act into law. The Fast Recovery Act, as it has become known, gives workers and union advocates the ability to influence wage and hour and workplace safety regulations in the fast food industry, but franchisees say the law will raise food prices in the Golden State by 20%.
The Fast Recovery Act made it to Newsom’s desk after a long and bitter fight. In August, a group of franchisees who had gone to Sacramento to lobby against the California business law squared up to a group of fast food workers on the steps of the state capital. The worker demonstration was planned by labor groups including the Service Employees International Union. The organizers say workers attended the event because they were angry over poor working conditions, unfair scheduling practices and rampant wage theft.
The bill has been passed and signed into law, but union leaders and fast food workers still have one more hurdle to overcome before they can claim victory. That is because the restaurant industry is gathering signatures to put the issue on the next state ballot. If the industry collects the 623,000 signatures required, the Fast Recovery Act will be put on hold until November 2024 at the earliest.
If the future of the Fast Recovery Act is decided by a ballot initiative, the industry media campaign will likely consist of little more than fearmongering over higher fast food prices. Experts also believe that the fast food industry will invest more to derail the law than the $102 billion Uber and Lyft spent to support the passage of Proposition 22. California voters have seen through this kind of manipulation in the past, which should give fast food workers at least some comfort.