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California law establishes fast-food labor council to govern workplace conditions, protections

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Sacramento, CA — Legislation signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 5 authorizes the creation of a council charged with establishing minimum standards on working conditions, hours and wages for fast-food workers statewide.

Under the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (A.B. 257), members of the 10-member Fast Food Council at the Department of Industrial Relations would include representatives from state agencies, employers and worker representatives “to ensure an all-inclusive approach” intended to “resolve long-standing issues in the fast-food restaurant sector,” according to a press release from Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), who sponsored the bill and is a former fast-food franchisee.

“California is committed to ensuring the men and women who have helped build our world-class economy are able to share in the state’s prosperity,” Newsom said in a separate release. “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.”

Anneisha Williams, one of the 550,000-plus fast-food workers in the state and a leader in efforts to advance industry worker rights, celebrates the measure.

 

“We’ve gone on strike, marched in the streets and rallied across the state to make sure our demand for a voice on the job was heard, even as powerful corporations pulled out all the stops to silence us,” Williams said in another press release. “We look forward to having a say in creating safe and healthy workplaces across the fast-food industry and to A.B. 257 serving as a model for workers across the country who desperately need a seat at the table.”

Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, agrees.

“At a minimum, A.B. 257 should lead to major improvements in labor standards in the fast-food industry,” Jacobs wrote in a blog post on the Labor Center’s website, “but it has the potential to do much more.”

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