California is raising the minimum wage for fast food workers, marking a hard-won victory for those workers and union organizers.
Amid chants of “when we fight, we win” from fast food employees and Service Employees International Union members in Los Angeles, California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed legislation that raises the minimum wage to $20 an hour for fast food workers, and creates a council that can approve further increases in the future. The state’s current minimum wage is $15.50 an hour and will increase to $16 an hour on January 1.
The new hourly wage for fast food workers will take effect on April 1 of next year. Employees who work at fast food restaurants with at least 60 locations nationwide are eligible.
A key part of the law is the establishment of a nine-person fast food council which includes two representatives from the fast food industry, two who represent franchisee groups or restaurant owners, two who represent employees, two representatives from groups advocating for employees, and a member of the public.
From 2025 through 2029, the council is authorized to increase the hourly minimum wage for fast food workers each year by a maximum of either 3.5% or the annual change in the consumer price index (a federal government measure of inflation and prices of goods), whichever is lower. In that period, only the council may set wages for fast food workers. The law only authorizes the council through 2029.
The council may also recommend other labor, health or safety standards for consideration to appropriate governing bodies.