The governor of California, Democrat Gavin Newsom, signed a law this Thursday setting the minimum wage for workers in fast food restaurants at $20, marking a victory for workers who pushed for the increase.
Newsom signed the Fast Food Standards and Accountability Recovery Act, which will require fast food restaurants to pay at least $20 an hour starting April 1, 2024.
The governor emphasized in a press conference that 80% of fast food workers in California are black, and two out of three are women. “This is a remarkable moment in history,” the governor said at the signing, shouting, “Yes, we could.”
“Today we take another step toward fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving fast food workers a stronger voice and a seat at the table,” Newsom added.
The new legislation also calls for the creation of a Fast Food Industry Council, made up of representatives of workers, state regulators, restaurants, and franchises, which will have the authority to increase worker wages by 3.5% each year through a 2029 increase.
In California, more than half a million people work in fast-food restaurants.
Current average salaries for fast food restaurant workers in California are between $16 and $18 per hour. The state minimum is $15.50, an increase that came after a fight by fast food restaurant workers.
David Huerta, president of the United Service Workers of the West (SEIU USWW), said at the press conference after the signing that the bill represents a victory for all workers and will fuel further struggles for workers in other industries.
Another bill that would increase the minimum wage for health care workers in California to $23 starting June 1, 2024, is awaiting the governor’s signature.