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August 28, 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Since coming to California from Mexico 24 years ago, Maria Bernal has supported her family by often working two jobs at fast-food restaurants.

But she says that for six months after she lost her apartment in 2019, when one of her employers began paying her the minimum wage for eight hours even when she was working, she was living in a tiny Kia with her two youngest children, then 3 and 15 years. 16 hour double shift.

Union organizers and other advocates say such wage theft and other exploitation is common in the fast-food industry, especially for women and racial minorities, who make up the more than half a million fast-food workers in California. The industry denies that such abuses are widespread.

WATCH: Low-wage, entry-level workers demand better protections in California

Bernal and more than 100 others who rallied outside the state Capitol recently are pinning their hopes on groundbreaking legislation that would give fast-food workers more power and protections.

The proposal, pending a final decision before the California Legislature adjourns Wednesday, would create a new fast-food board made up of four labor delegates along with four employer representatives and two state officials to set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions in California.

Bernal said she hopes the world will give workers like herself “a seat at the table where they will respect us more and not allow us to steal wages and, importantly, not fear retaliation.”

Restaurant owners and franchisors say the proposal would raise fast food prices. They cite an analysis commissioned by UC Riverside’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development that estimates price increases between 7% and 20%.

A late salary cap addition to the bill would keep raises at the lower end of that range. The late changes cap a possible increase in the minimum wage to $22 an hour next year, with cost-of-living increases, while the federal minimum will be $15.50 an hour.

Other late changes mean the council would also have to approve a petition signed by 10,000 fast-food workers, and the council would now disappear after six years if it is not renewed.

Matthew Haller, President & The executive director of the International Franchise Association dismissed the last-minute revisions as “an attempt to smear a pig.”

An earlier version cleared the Assembly in January without a vote remaining after it failed last year, and a revised bill awaits consideration in the Senate.

While California’s efforts would be broader, a wage commission created by New York’s governor in 2015 led to an increase in fast-food wages there, and similar efforts have been attempted by some cities. The left-leaning Center for American Progress says so-called labor committees, labor standards boards or industrial boards could fight economic inequality, along with racial and gender pay gaps.

“If we’re successful here, workers in Florida, Texas, New York and even Idaho will be excited and able to emulate our success,” Democratic Assemblyman Alex Lee said at the labor rally.

The California measure would cover fast-food restaurants with at least 100 locations nationwide.

It grew out of the decades-long Fight for $15 and the Union Minimum Wage movement and union efforts to organize fast-food workers in California and across the country.

WATCH: Amazon worker vote boosts organizing efforts across country

“This is more than just a workers’ struggle. It’s a fight for racial justice, it’s a fight for gender justice,” said Joseph Bryant, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, which is behind the action. “Eighty percent of the fast food workers are black. Two-thirds of the workers are women who work in fast food, and these workers are exploited.”

Fast-food workers in California are paid nearly $3 an hour less than comparable workers in other service-sector jobs, according to a joint study released this month by Harvard and UC San Francisco.

Bernal hopes the California law and ongoing efforts to unionize fast-food establishments will one day lead to benefits such as paid time off, health insurance and a retirement plan. Earlier this year, she filed a wage claim with state regulators, seeking $160,000 in back wages and penalties while her son allegedly violated child labor laws and threatened the restaurant manager.

Employees “are still fighting for some basic things that should have happened a long time ago for the fast-food workers who serve our community every day, even during the pandemic,” said Democratic Rep. Chris Holden, who authored the bill.

But Jesse Lara, whose family business operates 34 El Pollo Loco franchises in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, said the bill is unnecessary and would harm the company’s more than 1,000 employees.

It’s unfairly assumed “that we have to dumb down our employees to make a profit,” even though many company managers have been promoted from within, he said. Inflation is “killing us,” he said, and higher wages and benefits would force restaurant owners to raise prices and cut workers’ hours to make ends meet.

The bill under consideration targets good-faith abuses while supporting union goals for industry-wide collective bargaining rather than trying to organize fast-food chains one restaurant at a time, said Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies and labor relations. , who leads Rutgers. University Justice Lab at Work.

Such sectoral negotiations are common in Europe, she said, but rare in the United States.

California already has some of the strongest worker protection laws and regulations in the U.S., if not the world, said Matt Sutton, the California Restaurant Association’s senior vice president of government affairs and public policy.

He disputed claims that the fast-food sector has higher rates of understaffing, unemployment, health and safety incidents, but said the answer should be for lawmakers to spend more money enforcing labor standards instead of creating a new board regardless. with unique regulatory power over one industry.

“There are options to penalize employers when appropriate,” Sutton said.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Treasury Department also opposed the bill in June, citing its potential costs and what it said could be a “fragmented regulatory and legal environment.”

“It is not clear that this bill will achieve its goal, as it attempts to address enforcement delays by creating stricter standards for certain sectors, which could exacerbate existing delays,” the administration warned.

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What’s the highest paying retail job?

The 15 Highest Paying Retail Jobs

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Which retail store pays the most? Of our list, Saks Fifth Avenue pays the highest hourly rate on average, over $15.00 per hour.

Who is the highest paid server?

NEW YORK , June 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A native New Yorker, Eric Valdivies has been widely recognized as an icon by hospitality industry leaders. He is the highest paid server in the world, regularly earning over $100,000 each year, serving customers in restaurants and hotels in New York City.

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What is a fast food employee?

Fast food workers take and fulfill customers’ food and beverage orders. They make up some items like sandwiches and salads. They also collect payment. They include crew members, team members, store associates, cashiers and customer service associates.

What makes a good fast food employee? To get the most out of working at a fast food restaurant, use your job as an opportunity to develop customer service and stress management skills. If you have to deal with rude customers, remember that they don’t know you personally and handle the situation professionally by not letting your emotions get in the way.

What is the definition of fast food employees?

A fast food establishment employee is any person employed or permitted by any employer to work in or for a fast food establishment where the person’s job duties include at least one of the following: assisting customers, cooking, preparing food or beverages, delivery, security, stock storage. or equipment, cleaning or routine…

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