Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
Imagine starting a business where the wages you pay, the working hours you set and the workplace safety conditions you provide are established by a state-mandated council.
Unlike a union, no one elected these people to represent anyone. Unlike a government agency, no one is accountable for their policy choices.
That’s the exact scenario California fast food restaurant owners find themselves in with the passage of AB 257, the so-called Fast Food Accountability Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act). The union-supported law impacts more than 500,000 fast food workers, their employers and ultimately their customers.
The law sets up a so-called Fast Food Council within the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). This 10-member body will be selected by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Rules Committee. They consist of one DIR rep, one rep from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), two reps of advocates for fast food employees, two reps of fast food employees, two reps of fast food franchisors and two reps of fast food franchisees.
The power this body will wield over a specific industry is unprecedented. In one year, this council will have the authority to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers by $6.50 per employee. Economists who have studied the bill estimate it will raise the impacted restaurants’ food costs by 20%, according to a joint statement by the National Restaurant Association and the International Franchise Association.
That’s why a broad coalition of groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are mobilizing to give voters the opportunity to protect Californians and local business owners from this harmful law. Just last week, the Attorney General prepared a title and summary for the ballot measure that will hopefully keep AB 257 from going into effect.
Keep an eye out for petitions. We need registered voters to get this referendum on the ballot and keep this council off the books.