Certain Midterm Election Ballot Measures Could Majorly Affect Restaurants

While the presidential elections are the apex decider of the world Americans live in, the effects of the midterms cannot be ignored. The 2022 midterm elections come in the wake of a memorable event that shut the world indoors. During this period, those deemed "essential workers" helped keep the global population healthy. This fraction of the labor force kept the lights on, the water flowing, the vegetables growing, and the hospitals healing, along with those who cooked and delivered food to people's doors. By the end of this year, foodservice workers are expected to comprise 14.9 million citizens, per the National Restaurant Association.

The fate of these millions of workers will come under the spotlight during the upcoming midterm elections in five states — which could later affect the experience of food workers in other parts of the country, as noted by The Takeout. How will the outcome of the votes, cast during times of record food inflation, affect restaurant staff and customers?

Increased minimum wages could mean higher menu prices

Restaurant workers' rights are a key focus in midterm elections in Tennessee, Illinois, Nevada, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C. First up, the Tennessee Constitutional Right-to-Work Amendment, if passed, will ban companies from using an applicant's union status (whether or not they are not union members) as a deciding factor for employment. The Illinois Workers Rights Amendment is similar, though it will decide whether or not to constitutionalize workers' rights "to organize and collectively bargain," per WBEZ.

The states of Nevada and Nebraska are looking to make amendments to the minimum wage. Should these amendments be passed, restaurant workers will have their pay increased to $12 and $15 per hour, respectively. If the District of Columbia ratifies the Tax Credit Elimination Act of 2021, meanwhile, the typical server can expect a wage hike from $5.35 to $16.10 per hour before tips, per DC News Now.

What does this all mean for restaurant customers? Amid the passing of California's fast food wage bill earlier this year, Senator Brian Dahle mentioned that increased minimum wages for fast food workers would have patrons picking up the tab, per AP News. In other words, menu prices may increase following the elections, meaning some customers may need to adjust their dining-out habits again.