Fast Times For Fast Food Workers

by | Aug 25, 2022 | Gig Economy, Hospitality, Retail, SEIU

We recently suggested keeping your eyes on fast food workers in California, which is ground central for potential industry transformation that could reach far and wide. Assembly Bill 257 – the Fast Food Accountability and Standards (FAST) Recovery Act – calls for rules on wages and working hours. More importantly, the bill could grant fast food workers (who work in chains with 30+ California locations) the automatic power to bargain. This power would even allow them to bypass their employers and bargain with the fast-food industry as a whole through a “sectoral bargaining” mechanism.

Fast forward to this month: SEIU California and Fight for 15 campaign still lead the push for this legislation, which would install a Fast-Food Sector Council to represent about half a million workers. The state’s Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the bill, which is opposed by the California Restaurant Association and the California Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations argue that existing inflation and ongoing labor shortages not only prevent boosting wages, but this bill would actually increase inflation and burden franchise owners, many of whom are women and minorities.

In other words, keep watching California, and don’t ignore Pennsylvania, where tipped workers just saw a boost to their minimum wage. This happened by raising the tip threshold (from $30 to $135 per month) that is required before a worker’s hourly rate can legally be dropped from $7.25 per hour to $2.50 or lower.

On the federal level, the House of Representatives is taking on minimum wage in a different way. If HR 8442 (the “Worker Flexibility and Choice Act”) becomes law, then gig workers (including rideshare drivers and some delivery drivers) will no longer have the right to minimum wage, among other protections.

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