California residents will be surprised to hear this, but the state's AB 257, termed the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, or FAST Act, has been put on hold. The FAST act, which was set to take effect from January 1, 2023, proposed the establishment of a Fast Food Sector Council to regulate California's fast food restaurants.
If implemented, the FAST act would have been a building stone for improving the state's employment and working conditions of fast food workers. The law focuses on supplying the necessary cost of proper living to fast food restaurant workers by increasing the minimum standards on wages, dictating the appropriate working hours, and addressing other health, safety, and welfare-related matters.
The Superior Court of Sacramento put the act on hold as the Department of Industrial Relations continued to implement and enforce the law despite the signatures being submitted for the referendum process. The coalition submitting the signatures for the referendum process moved the court on December 29, pleading a hold on the law's implementation.
While putting a temporary hold on the enactment of AB 257 in California, termed the FAST Act, the Superior Court of Sacramento stated:
“The harm to California citizens and electors, in contrast, is great given the Court’s duty to ‘jealously guard’ the people’s right to a referendum and the confusion that would occur if AB 257 were temporarily implemented while signatures were verified, and the confusion and uncertainty that could occur if the provisions of [AB 257] were to go into temporary effect.”
All you need to know about California's FAST act
Focused on improving the working and living conditions of fast food restaurant workers across the state, California's FAST act proposed a Fast Food Sector Council to oversee and regulate fast food restaurants in the state.
The act states that the council will comprise ten members who can be appointed (not elected) by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the State Rules Committee.
The FAST act gives the council enough power to implement regulations related to the state's fast food restaurants much faster than the legislation. The council does not require much public insight and can pass a regulation as long as six out of the ten members are in favor of it.
Workers and fast food businesses in other states of America fall under similar regulatory councils. But California's FAST act takes it a step further by giving the council all the extra authority to set wages and working conditions for fast food workers in the state.
While the FAST act may seem like a beacon of hope for fast food restaurant workers across the state, it may also seem threatening to fast food restaurants that have been running their businesses at cheap labor costs and deplorable working conditions.
What does AB 257 in California bring to the table
As mentioned earlier, AB 257, termed the FAST Act, will create the Fast Food Council, a regulatory board comprising ten members representing different sections of California's fast food restaurant business. The board will include:
- Two fast food employees
- Two employee advocates
- Two fast food franchisors
- Two franchisee representatives
- Two state agency representatives from the Department of Industrial Relations and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development
AB 257 will allow the council to empower fast food restaurant employees by setting the appropriate minimum wage standards. Currently, fast food employees in California get a minimum wage of around $15.50 per hour, while their peers from Los Angeles and San Francisco can get anywhere between $16.04 to $16.99 per hour.
The FAST act will allow the council to set the wages to as high as $22 per hour for 2023. Starting next year, the council could set a 3.5% increase or a change in CPI, whichever is smaller.
The FAST Act will also allow the council to create a new set of industry-specific rules addressing maximum working hours, training, security, and other workplace conditions for the employees. The Labor Commissioner and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will be responsible for enforcing such rules.
If implemented, the FAST act will apply to all fast-food chains and restaurants with more than 100 locations nationally.