The California Law That Could Change Quick-Service Restaurants Forever

While there are many forces behind the growing labor movement seen at companies like Trader Joe's, Starbucks (via CNBC), and Chipotle (via Nation's Restaurant News), higher wages and consistent work schedules are among the most common demands by workers. In April, Trader Joe's lost a $44,000 employee lawsuit for violating a Seattle law that requires retailers to post schedules for hourly workers at least 14 days ahead of time. 

By gaining the support of a union, workers hope to have an easier time bringing their demands to their managers without the fear of getting fired. This was the case for one Trader Joe's worker who was temporarily let go for requesting COVID-19 protections (per The Daily Beast). To safeguard against these types of incidents, California is pushing a bill that would amplify workers' voices on issues like wages, scheduling hours, training, and working conditions. Those against the bill, however, say its passage could create a challenging environment for the state's fast-service restaurants (via National Law Review).

The FAST Act aims to give workers a voice

The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (also known as the FAST Act) would give California workers and unions a role in setting wage and hour standards of the state's quick-service restaurants, Restaurant Business reports. The act, which is picking up steam in California's State Assembly, would also make fast food franchisors jointly and separately liable for any violations by their franchisees.

Standards would be set by a newly created council of 13 people, including two representatives of fast food workers and two union or labor advocate officials, per National Law Review. While the council would abide by a voting process for workers and/or unions looking to change workplace requirements within a franchise, only six affirmative votes from the council would be necessary to do so, according to the text of the bill. 

Restaurant Business reports that the California Judiciary Committee voted 7-1 to move the bill forward. This is a huge deal for workers looking to boost minimum wage, improve working conditions, and more. Critics of the bill say it would increase costs and create unnecessary rules for businesses still recovering from the pandemic.