In 2022 California Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law a new labor code (Section 1470—a) that would establish the CA Fast Food Council (FFC). Under the umbrella of an act called The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act or FAST Recovery Act, the state legislature has created the FFC which is a group of ten civilians, appointed by the Governor, that have the authority to create new employment laws for large fast food employers that have 100 or more locations nationwide.
The body is charged by statute to raise the minimum wage for fast food employees (to as high as $22.00 per hour) and may increase the minimum wage each year thereafter by formula. The law also authorizes a county or a city with a population greater than 200,000 to establish their own Local Fast Food Council to provide recommendations to the Council. Any regulations passed by the FFC will automatically become law unless the California Legislature convenes a vote to invalidate the the regulation.
In addition to higher wages, the Fast Food Council would have regulatory authority with certain conditions related to:
- health and safety
- security in the workplace
- the right to take time off from work for protected purposes
- protection from discrimination and harassment
Opponents say that the law will increase food and labor costs and further exacerbate runaway inflation. It will likely also force employers to reduce their worker count and invest in automation technology. An increase in costs will mean fewer jobs and fewer restaurants.
The law was set to go into effect on January 1, 2023 but (as of 1/16/23) enforcement has been temporarily postponed due to efforts by an industry group called “Save Local Restaurants” that filed a lawsuit against state officials. The group asked the court to block the implementation of while it attempts to get the law repealed, by voters, via referendum on the 2024 ballot. “The measure would establish an unelected council to control labor policy in the counter-service restaurant industry, cause food prices to increase by as much as 20% during a period of decades-high inflation, and harm thousands of small family, minority, and women-owned businesses across the state,” says a Save Local Restaurants statement.