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Fast food industry group Save Local Restaurants files lawsuit to stop AB 257, the Fast Act

A powerful fast food industry group has filed a lawsuit to stop a landmark labor law aimed at protecting fast food restaurant workers’ working conditions from taking effect on January 1. .

The lawsuit is aimed at Congressional Bill 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Restoration Act. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the law into law on his September 5th Labor Day this year. The law, also known as the Fast Act, requires his 10-member council under the state’s Labor Relations Office to raise employment standards for fast food restaurants in 2023 and lower the minimum wage in the fast food sector. to $22 an hour. , there is an upper limit to the annual increase.

A day after Newsom signed the law into law, a trade group called Save Local Restaurants launched an effort to overturn AB 257, asking them to distribute a petition to qualify for a voter ballot on the issue. It has landed in the ballot box in 2024.
Save Local Restaurants has received over $20 million in support from companies such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks, local franchises and trade groups. Led by the International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association, and the American Chamber of Commerce.
By the Dec. 5 deadline, the group submitted one million live signatures to the Office of the Secretary of State. This far exceeds the 623,212 authenticated and valid signatures required to challenge the law.
The problem is that these signatures are still being verified by the county and will not be completed before the Fast Act takes effect. A representative from the Labor Relations Department wrote in a letter to Save Local Restaurants on Dec. 27 that the law would go ahead for the time being. Owned. ”

Lawyers for the Save Local restaurant framed it as an unconstitutional violation of the procedures seen in the previous referendum.
At Thursday’s press conference, representatives of the group sounded confident they would reach the required number of signatures. The California Department of State is currently conducting a random sample verification process. As of December 27, the projected number of valid signatures after 29 California counties have reported samples is expected to exceed the required number.
Still, Save Local Restaurants representatives say that if AB 257 takes effect on January 1, the Fast Food Council could form and start regulating before the ballot is signed and the law is suspended. I am concerned that there is They also believe the law could set a national precedent in general.

Attempts to overthrow the AB 257 are not without controversy. In October, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California Council announced it had filed a complaint with California’s Attorney General and Secretary of State about the referendum, citing campaigners defrauding voters as part of a signature-collecting campaign. He claimed “clear and substantive evidence” that The union alleges that signature collectors tricked people into signing the petition, claiming the referendum was to raise the minimum wage for fast food employees.

In a statement, SEIU California executive director Tia Orr called the lawsuit by Save Local Restaurants a “cowardly tactic.”
“When companies fail to block progressive legislation in Congress, they turn to ballot measures to raise money in an attempt to circumvent democracy and the will of the people. This abuse of the referendum system must stop. I have to,” she said.

Mario Cortez (he/he) is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]