EDITOR’S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Jada Montemarano spoke with a McDonald’s employee about AB 257, or the FAST Act, going before voters in 2024. Click the arrow above to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES — Almost five months after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 257 into law, mandating minimum wages and working standards at fast-food restaurants, opponents announced Wednesday that they have gathered enough signatures for a 2024 ballot initiative that could prevent it from taking effect. The Save Local Restaurants coalition has collected more than one million signatures to oppose AB 257, also known as the FAST Act.
“California voters have made clear that they want a say on whether they must shoulder the burden of higher prices and job losses caused by the FAST Act,” the group said in a statement.
Also known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, AB 257 establishes a Fast Food Council within the state’s Department of Industrial Relations to determine standards for working hours, conditions, safety, training and pay at fast-food restaurants. Four of the 10 council member seats are reserved for employers and franchise industry representatives. A minimum of six council votes is required to pass new legally binding regulations.
The law, which raised the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $22 per hour, was supposed to take effect Jan. 1, 2023, but was paused earlier this month because of the Save Local Restaurants initiative. The minimum wage in California is currently $15.50 per hour.
“The FAST Act is bad policy that threatens not only quick service restaurants but the independents operating in the same neighborhoods,” National Restaurant Assn. Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Sean Kennedy said in a statement. “There is no way that the regulations passed by this unelected council would not damage the state’s restaurant industry, harm its workforce and leave diners paying the bill.”
The Referendum on the FAST Act Food Tax will go before voters on the 2024 General Election ballot.