Fast-food workers caravaned across Orange County on Wednesday, July 27 to demand passage of a bill aimed at protecting them from sexual harassment, wage theft, safety violations and workplace violence.
But Stop AB 257, a coalition of franchisees and franchisors who oppose the measure, were quick to attack the legislation. They say it would fuel higher consumer prices, and the group noted that California already has some of the strongest worker protection laws in the nation.
“Today’s theatrics can’t disguise the fact that AB 257 would do nothing but harm California restaurants and the patrons who frequent them,” the coalition said in a statement . “The higher costs created by this bill mean less opportunity for entrepreneurs and employees alike, through fewer store openings, fewer jobs and reduced hours.”
Assembly Bill 257, also known as the “FAST Food Recovery Act,” would create a state-run council to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions for the more than 700,000 fast-food employees in California.
The measure was passed in the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee last month and is set to be heard Aug. 11 in the Senate Appropriations Committee before heading to a full Senate vote later that month.
The Service Employees International Union is pushing for the passage of AB 257 as part of its “Fight for $15 and a Union” campaign. Los Angeles adopted a $15 minimum wage in 2015 and California followed suit in 2016, but unionization in the industry has been elusive.
On Wednesday, the fast-food workers took their demands directly to the district office of Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, who has yet to take a position on the bill. They’re urging him to side with frontline workers, rather than cash-rich, fast food corporations.
Hundreds of fast-food workers held a similar event last month at Los Angeles City Hall as part of a statewide, one-day rally among fast-food employees.
Stop AB 257 said the bill is an attempt by organized labor to “change the franchise business model in California and put the responsibility of local business owners in the hands of unelected bureaucrats.”