February 3, 2023

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California Voters to Decide on Regulating Fast-Food Industry

2 min read

LOS ANGELES — A California law creating a council with broad authority to set wages and improve the working conditions of fast-food employees has been halted after restaurant and trade groups submitted enough signatures to place the issue before voters next year.

Officials from the California secretary of state’s office announced late Tuesday that Save Local Restaurants, a broad coalition of small-business owners, large corporations, restaurateurs and franchisees, had turned in enough valid signatures to stop the law from taking effect.

The group, which has raised millions of dollars to oppose the law, had to submit roughly 623,000 valid voter signatures by an early December deadline to place a question on the 2024 ballot asking California voters if the law should take effect.

Legislation signed in September by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, would set up a 10-member council of union representatives, employers and workers to oversee the fast-food industry’s labor practices in the state.

The panel would have the authority to raise the minimum wage of fast-food workers to as much as $22 an hour — well above the statewide minimum of $15.50. In addition, the council would oversee health, safety and anti-discrimination regulations for nearly 550,000 fast-food workers statewide.

Opponents including the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association argued that the measure, Assembly Bill 257, singled out their industry and would in turn burden businesses with higher labor costs that would be passed along to consumers in higher food prices.

Matt Haller, president of the International Franchise Association, said the bill “was a solution in search of a problem that didn’t exist.”

“Californians have spoken out to prevent this misguided policy from driving food prices higher and destroying local businesses and the jobs they create,” Mr. Haller said.

Last year, the Center for Economic Forecasting and Development at the…

Kurtis Lee

2023-01-25 14:01:23

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