Restaurant Group Sues to Block California Fast-Food Wage Law

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A restaurant industry group sued a group of California officials on Thursday, claiming they planned to illegally begin enforcing a new law that sets minimum hourly wages for fast food workers.

A group that includes franchisees and a restaurant business association called Save Local Restaurants said it filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court after the state’s Labor Relations Office notified the law would take effect on January 1.

The restaurant group announced in early December that it had submitted a petition with more than one million voter signatures urging Californians to vote on a bill in the 2024 election. The lawsuit alleges that California plans to implement the law until the Secretary of State confirms that the restaurant coalition has submitted a minimum of about 623,000 valid signatures to the petition.

The Restaurant Coalition argues that the law should not go into effect while the Secretary of State is verifying signatures.

Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gavin Newsom, said the state disagreed and intended to go ahead with the legislation for now.

“Industry supports the referendum measure, but the Secretary of State has not proven that there are enough signatures to qualify for the vote,” she said in a statement. Unless and until it happens, we have a duty to enforce this important law.”

The first California law in the United States was signed into law in September by Democrat Newsom despite opposition from the fast food industry. Known as the Fast Recovery Act, the law created a 10-member government-appointed council of workers, employers, union representatives and business advocates to assist the state’s estimated 500,000 fast food workers. set minimum wage to minimum wage. $22 per hour. That minimum increases each year based on inflation.

The minimum wage in California is currently $15 an hour and will increase to $15.50 by 2023.

Proponents of the law, including organized workers, say that in an industry where it has proven difficult to unionize due to the large number of franchise owners, fast food workers are forced to pay more than their wages and work conditions. He said it would give him a greater say.

Business groups warn that the law could force restaurant owners to cut staff, raise menu prices to compensate for higher wages, and hold back from opening new locations in California. doing.

Efforts to block the law are drawing support from restaurant companies, including McDonald’s Ltd.

,Starbucks Ltd.

Yum Brands Inc., parent company of Taco Bell, Chipotle Mexican Grill Ltd,

I donated to a campaign calling for a referendum to abolish it.

—Zusha Elinson contributed to this article.

Please contact Jacob Bunge ([email protected]) and Ben Fritz ([email protected]).

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