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'I'm fed up' | California fast-food workers strike for better pay and work conditions

AB 257 would create a state-run council to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions for employees.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Fast-food workers in California will strike on Thursday. It's being organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its Fight for $15 and a Union campaign.

The purpose of the strike is to urge state senators and Governor Gavin Newsom to pass and sign Assembly Bill 257.

AB 257, also known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Recovery Act), would create a state-run council to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions for employees. 

"Fast-food is an essential part of California's economy, and our jobs should support healthy families and strong communities — not keep us tired and hungry," said Ingrid Vilorio, a Jack in the Box worker in Castro Valley. "But as long as big corporations have the power to steal our wages and refuse responsibility for violence and discrimination taking place in our stores, communities like mine will never be able to succeed."

Workers plan to walk off the job in Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. The one-day strike will impact fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s, Burger King and Jack in the Box.

In Sacramento, workers and their supporters will hold a 24-hour vigil outside the Capitol building. Organizers say there will also be a series of "teach-ins on growing worker power in the state and the need for broad-based solutions to economic and racial inequality."

"I'm fed up with waiting for these companies to change," Vilorio said. "I'm going on strike to win the power to sit at the table and demand our elected officials support our fight to improve our industry and build a better California for all."

California has more than 500,000 fast-food workers, and 80% of them are people of color, according to SEIU. A recent survey by the labor union also shows about 425,000 fast-food workers in California experience wage theft. That includes unpaid work, minimum wage and overtime violations, paycheck problems, rest and meal breaks issues, and paid sick leave violations. 

“Every single day, California’s fast-food industry deepens inequality in our state and drives a race to the bottom in our economy," said David Huerta, president of SEIU California and SEIU-United Service Worker West (USWW). "Right now, instead of holding fast-food corporations accountable for their low pay and atrocious conditions, California is putting taxpayers on the hook to help cooks and cashiers survive. Until we fix this backwards situation, half a million working Californians will never be able to truly thrive."

AB 257, which passed the state Assembly in January, is expected to be heard by the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on June 13.


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