Sacramento Fast Food Workers Are Protesting In Favor Of New Labor Law

The year 2022 has emerged as the unofficial Year of Workers' Rights. The unfolding Starbucks unionization saga has been full of highs and lows on both sides but has already led to the successful utilization of at least 245 stores nationwide (per Reuters). In January 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City passed the "Just Cause" rule, which dictates that fast food employers cannot legally terminate their employees without providing legitimate evidence of their fallibility, per Employers are also forbidden from reducing employee hours by more than 15% without reason. Now, fast food workers in California are next in line to receive their well-deserved rights.

According to The Sacramento Bee, roughly 550,000 fast food industry workers are employed in California. Per NBC, the current minimum wage in the state is $15.50/hour, with more than 200% more likely to live in poverty than state employees working in any other sector; about 52% rely on public aid, and 85% have experienced wage theft, per a press release sent to Tasting Table by Fight for $15 and a Union.

That's why, in September 2022, California's fast food bill was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. The FAST Recovery Act (aka AB 257) was passed to protect industry workers' rights (via the National Restaurant Association), and perhaps unsurprisingly, it has already been met with intense opposition. But Sacramento fast food workers are protesting to protect their rights and retain their newly-won voice — a voice that corporate entities are already working to silence.

Workers using their new voice to speak out against corporate oppressors

On Tuesday, fast food industry workers across California will be going on strike to support AB 257, reports The Sacramento Bee. McDonald's, Starbucks, and Chiptole have been named alongside other giants that have been actively attempting to overturn the FAST Recovery Act. McDonald's U.S.A. President Joe Erlinger called the law a "lopsided, hypocritical and ill-considered legislation that hurt everyone" via Fortune. He added, "It imposes higher costs on one type of restaurant while sparing another." Many restaurant owners agreed. AB 257 would raise the minimum wage to $22/hour by 2023, and 51% of restaurant owners said they worry that California's new wage law will drive up food costs, per Restaurant Dive.

To defend the Act from these powerful entities trying to repeal it, a series of rallies will take place on Tuesday outside various fast food chain headquarters across California. In San Diego, employees will be rallying outside of corporate Jack in the Box. In Orange County, protestors will be knocking on the doors of Chipotle, Del Taco, and El Pollo Loco, while in San Francisco, Starbucks will be on the chopping block. Natalie Palugyai, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency, will be in attendance, per the press release. Finally, in solidarity, McDonald's employees in Chicago will be rallying outside the company's Windy City headquarters. Only time will tell whether these fast food giants will be ready to meet the reality of their neglected workforce.