California Passes $20 Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers

(Headline USA) A new law in California will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 per hour next year.

When it takes effect on April 1, fast food workers in California will have the highest guaranteed base salary in the industry.

The state’s minimum wage for all other workers — $15.50 per hour — is already among the highest in the United States.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law Thursday amid a throng of cheering workers and labor leaders at an event in Los Angeles.

Newsom’s signature reflects the power and influence of labor unions in the nation’s most populous state, which have worked to organize fast food workers in an attempt to improve their wages and working conditions.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union International, said the law capped 10 years of work — including 450 strikes across the state in the past two years.

Newsom signing the law could win back some favor with organized labor, who sharply criticized him last week for vetoing a separate bill aimed at protecting the jobs of truck drivers amid the rise of self-driving technology.

Unions have played a big part in Newsom’s political rise in California, offering a reliable source of campaign cash.

The new minimum wage for fast food workers will apply to restaurants with at least 60 locations nationwide, with an exception for restaurants that make and sell their own bread, like Panera Bread.

Right now, California’s fast food workers earn an average of $16.60 per hour, or just over $34,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The new $20 minimum wage is just a starting point. The law creates a Fast Food Council that has the power to increase that wage each year through 2029 by 3.5% or the change in averages for the U.S. Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, whichever is lower.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press