Guardians of the Grub
how worker protections will change fast food forever
California just became the first state in the US to protect fast food workers and it’s a move that will eventually impact drive-thrus across America. Dunno about y’all but we think that anything that gives more rights, protections, and cash to the people who feed us is a damn good thing. 36% of Americans eat fast food daily, so any changes to this industry impact all of us. The bill is called the FAST Recovery Act (or AB257 for you fucking nerds) and it does a few different thing.
First, AB257 will establish a Fast Food Council of 10 appointees representing labor, health and safety standards, union reps, and employers of quick service restaurants. Quick service restaurants (QSRs if you’re cool) are food service establishments or groups of food service establishments that offer rapid meal menus to consumers and generally do not offer table service to customers. It’s basically just a fancy industry term for fast food restaurants. It’s not immediately clear who is gonna do the appointing but hey, it’s something.
Second, AB257 increases employee wages for any restaurant with more than 100 locations in California. Ya know- the McDonalds (1,165), Burger Kings (568), Subways (2,050), Taco Bells (964) etc that sprawl across the Golden State. Yes you’re reading that right, those numbers are locations just in California. We might be dirty hippies here but goddammit this is the land that birthed fast food.
The new wage cap for quick service restaurants that fall under these guidelines is $22/hour starting in 2023. This is a significant increase from the state’s current minimum wage of $15.50. That might sound like a lot an hour, but considering 40% of qsr employees are over 25 and 26% have children, that is just barely a livable wage in a state with a notoriously high cost of living.
California has more than half a million fast food employees who are not represented by a union. This bill sets protections for those workers from unlivable wages, poor working conditions, lack of training, and stolen wages from these large billion dollar corporations that rely on their labor for profits. A better quality of life for employees means higher worker retention and overall better customer service for all of us. Considering McDonalds made $23 billion in 2021 alone, they can fucking afford it.
Seems pretty sweet right? Obviously not everyone is happy with the changes. Restaurant owners, investors, and the billionaire class are seething at the prospect of a less exploitative relationship with their laborers. Opponents of the bill argue this will increase prices, which they were doing already and blaming inflation. Obviously, the only reason prices at these establishments would go up is because the companies are unwilling to absorb the cost themselves and choose to pass the cost to consumers. Which they do, constantly.
Another fear is that this bill represents another step towards worker unionization across the country. Workers in a variety of industries are now unionizing in record numbers here in the US but it is in the service industry where they face some of their harshest opposition. You know, like how Starbucks: Lord of the Pumpkins keeps firing workers and shutting down stores in attempts to slow the effort. Basically, anything that hampers billion dollar corporations from constant, exponential growth and profits is met with immediate and stiff opposition. If you’ve ever worked any of these jobs, you know that anything to make them less difficult and soul-sucking is long overdue. These fast food places are part of our communities, as are their employees, so any attempts at lifting the unnecessary burdens of the job should be welcomed.
Speaking of fast food, tomorrow our paid supporters will get a recipe for an equally nutritious and delicious Raspberry Creamsicle Smoothie. It’s a bright, refreshing way to start your morning and keep your cool in these dog days of summer.
Not a paid supporter? Want fresh recipes straight to your inbox every Sunday? There’s an easy way to fix that.