SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Fast food workers across the state went on strike Tuesday as restaurant groups were gathering signatures to overturn a recently signed labor law.
AB 257, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Labor Day, gives fast food workers a say in their pay and safety standards.
It is part of an ongoing theme where lawmakers will pass a bill, and then whatever group is upset about it will seek a way to overturn it by gathering signatures. Voters saw that during the election when they upheld the flavored tobacco ban.
Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation, said fast-food workers are standing up for what they worked hard to pass.
“A lot of these workers have withheld their labor. They're not going into work because it's so important to them," she said. "They earned this bill. They worked hard over two years to get a bill passed where they could have a voice on the job, and it is being stolen from them, and I do mean stolen.”
Newsom signed AB 257 to regulate the fast food industry working conditions and push the minimum wage to as much as $22 per hour next year.
Maria Bernal has worked at Jack in the Box in Sacramento for ten years.
"AB 257 means a radical change because this law will protect us and provide support to protect our rights as workers," Bernal said. "As human beings, we are not respected. They treat us like we are machines to make burgers, and that’s not fair.”
Sergio Balderrama works at McDonald's in San Diego.
“It upsets me to be out here fighting for something that we already won,” he said.
Save Local Restaurants, the group behind gathering signatures to overturn the law, provided a statement saying, in part, “Nearly a million California voters have already voiced their concerns with the FAST Act, which could raise food prices by 20% at a time of record inflation, cost thousands of jobs, and force the closure of local businesses. California voters should have a say in whether they shoulder the burden of higher prices and job losses this law will cause.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also had a few thoughts on this new law. On it's website, it states that "California’s AB 257 could radically change the way the franchise industry operates in the state and could ultimately price small business owners out of the market”
"They have signature gatherers lying to voters about what exactly they were signing," Gonzalez Fletcher said. "This is an attempt by these massive corporations to undo the gains that workers built for themselves."
Gonzalez Fletcher also announced Monday that fast food workers gathered 17,000 signatures to create the Fast Food Council. AB 257 allowed them to create the council if they could get 10,000 signatures.