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California considers bill that would more strictly regulate fast food businesses

Jack in the Box Willits, Ca
Wikimedia Commons
California considers legislation that would drastically shift accountability between fast food corporations and franchise employees.

The State Legislature is in the final weeks of considering a bill that would drastically change fast food business in the state. If the bill passes, it will allow workers to hold fast food corporations accountable for labor law violations.

California lawmakers are considering Assembly Bill 257, the so-called fast food bill, that would significantly change the relationship between fast food corporations and franchise workers.

In a recent survey of 400 fast food workers, 85 percent said they have been victims of wage theft, such as unpaid overtime and minimum wage violations. Currently, food fast workers can only hold the owner of their specific franchise location responsible for paying them back, even if they work under the banner of a multibillion-dollar fast food corporation.

If the bill passes, California would be the first state in the nation to assign labor liability to fast food corporations, not just franchise owners.

McDonalds, Burger King, and Jack in the Box are among the billion-dollar fast food corporations that employ hundreds of thousands of low wage workers throughout the state.

The California Chamber of Commerce, the state restaurant association and some franchise owners have all lobbied hard against the bill. They argue that it will raise costs for franchise owners and consumers.

The Service Employees International Union led a series of strikes this summer in support of the bill, including an overnight rally at the state capitol in Sacramento.

The bill is in its third reading this Monday and lawmakers have until the end of the month to approve the bill. If it makes it through the final weeks of this year’s legislative sessions, Governor Newsom would then have to sign the bill into law.