Newsom creates creepy 10-member council to set far-reaching standards for its fast food industry

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a far-reaching bill on Monday that empowers and adds protections for fast-food workers by creating a 10-member Fast Food Council with equal numbers of workers’ delegates and employers’ representatives.

(Video Credit: KCRA News)

The council will be able to set minimum standards for wages, hours, and working conditions in California.

The ramifications of the bill, AB 257, could potentially result in costs dramatically increasing for fast food and drive many franchise restaurants out of business. Restaurant owners vigorously opposed the move by Newsom.

Pandering to workers, the Democratic governor asserted that the state was “committed to ensuring that the men and women who have helped build our world-class economy are able to share in the state’s prosperity.”

“Today’s action gives hardworking fast food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table to set fair wages and critical health and safety standards across the industry,” Newsom proclaimed. “I’m proud to sign this legislation on Labor Day when we pay tribute to the workers who keep our state running as we build a stronger, more inclusive economy for all Californians.”

The law will cap the minimum wage for fast-food workers at $22 an hour next year for companies with more than 100 restaurants. The statewide minimum wage is $15.50 an hour in comparison. There will be cost of living increases thereafter.

The Democratically-controlled state legislature approved the measure on Aug. 29. Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it.

Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Calif.) introduced the bill. He claims it will have an “immediate impact on elevating the voice of the fast food worker, by giving them a say in determining workplace standards,” according to Fox Business.

“Speaking as a former franchise owner, I would have welcomed this inclusive process, that in reality benefits not only the worker but franchisee as well,” he declared. “I remain hopeful the opposition to this bill will give it a chance to work. Given, the final version of the bill removed many expressed concerns of subpoena power and joint-liability.”

Sen. Brian Dahle, who is the Republican nominee for governor in November, called it “a steppingstone to unionize all these workers,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

An analysis that was commissioned by the UC Riverside Center for Economic Forecast and Development contends that the legislation will increase costs that could harm the industry as a whole.

The California Restaurant Association branded the bill as “reckless.” They assert it would increase costs by 20% for restaurant goers without improving existing worker protections.

“By signing AB 257 into law, Governor Newsom has not leveled the playing field but instead targeted one slice of California’s small businesses and consumers who rely on counter service restaurants to feed their families,” the association charged. “As individual employers and neighborhood restaurants across the state, we will use every tool at our disposal to protect our consumers, workers, and other job providers from the pain and havoc that will result from enacting this bill.”

“This bill has been built on a lie, and now small business owners, their employees, and their customers will have to pay the price,” International Franchise Assn. (IFA) President and Chief Executive Matthew Haller noted in a statement. “Franchises already pay higher wages and offer more opportunity for advancement than their independent counterparts, and this bill unfairly targets one of the greatest models for achieving the American Dream and the millions of people it supports.”

“This bill is a fork in the eye to franchise owners and customers at a time when it hurts most,” the IFA said in a statement.

But labor groups and unions love the bill, despite the prospect of killing the goose that laid the proverbial golden egg.

“If you see me crying today it’s because I’m completely filled with joy,” SEIU California Executive Director Tia Orr tweeted on Monday. “550k+ fast food workers finally got their seat at the table to set their working conditions.”

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