A coalition of restaurant companies announced on Monday that it had collected enough signatures to challenge a new California law that would create a state-backed labor council to set wages and working conditions for the food industry. fast food.
Save Local Restaurants, a coalition opposing the law, said it had filed more than a million signatures to postpone the law and hold a referendum on the November 2024 ballot.
Counties will now have eight business days to provide a tally to the Secretary of State’s office. Opponents need approximately 623,000 valid signatures.
If the statewide total reaches the required amount, counties will have 30 business days to verify signatures by random sampling. Enough valid voter signatures would place a question on the 2024 ballot asking voters if the law should go into effect.
It could also lead to a costly battle between unions and the fast food industry, with spending reaching hundreds of millions of dollars. Save Local Restaurants raised over $13.7 million between January and September. Major brands, including Starbucks, Chipotle and McDonald’s, each donated $2 million.
The law, known as the FAST Recovery Act, would create the nation’s first labor council to set wages and labor standards for fast food workers. The board’s regulations would apply to any restaurant chain with at least 100 locations in the United States and could set the minimum wage at $22 an hour for fast-food workers by next year.
The law was set to take effect Jan. 1 after Governor Gavin Newsom signed the legislation last September. But a day later, opponents held a referendum to stop the formation of the council. They argue the law would lead to higher food prices and new regulatory burdens for franchise owners.
“The FAST Act would have a huge impact on Californians, and it’s clear that voters want a say in whether it’s maintained…it’s no surprise that more than a million Californians have raised concerns about legislation,” the coalition said in a statement. . ”
Supporters say the law would give workers a voice in regulating a sector of the state’s economy that employs more than half a million people.
The Service Employees International Union, which supports fast-food workers, said the companies were “trying to silence the voices of half a million black and Latino workers to boost their profits by $1 billion. dollars”.
“It is heinous that these companies have already spent millions of dollars trying to deliberately mislead California voters and stifle the progress being made by fast food workers,” said SEIU President Mary Kay. Henry, in a statement. “The referendum process in California has been completely taken over by corporations who think they can buy the right to overturn laws they don’t like and absolve themselves of liability.”
The SEIU filed complaints with the California Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State in October. The union alleged that the coalition violated state election rules and “willfully” misled the signing of the referendum petition. In videos taken by SEIU organizerssignature collectors can be heard falsely telling people that by signing the petition they will help raise the minimum wage to $22 an hour for workers.
This story was originally published December 5, 2022 12:03 PM.