California fast-food workers start receiving $20 minimum wage

(KTXL) — A law increasing the minimum wage for most fast-food workers in California took effect Monday.

Employees at most restaurant chains with 100 or more locations will be paid at least $20 an hour.

"The vast majority of fast-food locations in California operate under the most profitable brands in the world," said Joseph Bryant, executive vice president of SEIU. "Those corporations need to pay their fair share and provide their operators with the resources they need to pay their workers a living wage without cutting jobs or passing the cost to consumers. "

In response to the wage increase, fast-food companies have said they will have to find ways to compensate such as laying off workers or raising prices.

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Two Pizza Hut franchisees said they would lay off 1,200 delivery drivers in response to the change. Executives at chains such as McDonald's and Chipotle have stated that customers would be paying more in the future.

Worker advocates say companies make more than enough money to avoid those painful measures.

"The threats of price hikes and job cuts are the same scare tactics we heard when the wage was set to go up to $15/hour. These warnings have been largely unfounded," Bryant said. "In fact, the fast-food industry continues to thrive and profit. The top nine publicly traded fast-food companies alone took in nearly $25 billion in profits in 2023. "

The law also created the California Fast Food Council, an 11-member group within the California Department of Industrial Relations that will determine standards for working conditions in the industry.

The council will be made up of business leaders, worker advocates and at least one person not affiliated with the fast-food industry.

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