California Gov. Newsom signs fast-food worker $20 minimum wage bill into law

The new minimum wage applies to all fast-food workers at restaurants that have at least 60 locations nationwide, except those that sell their own bread

Fast-food workers in California will see a nice increase in their paychecks beginning next year following the passage of a law signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that increases the minimum wage to $20 per hour. 

The new wage takes effect on April 1, 2024, and applies to workers at restaurants that have at least 60 locations nationwide, except those that make and sell their own bread.

The minimum wage for workers in other industries across the state stands at $15.50, among the highest in the nation. 

"This is a big deal," Newsom said during an event in Los Angeles where he signed the fast-food minimum wage bill, AB 1228, into law. 

MCDONALD'S SAYS GOODBYE TO SELF-SERVE SODA

California Gov. Gavin Newsom surrounded by supporters of abill he signed into law to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the fast-food bill surrounded by fast-food workers at SEIU Local 721 in Los Angeles on Thursday. (AP Photo / AP Images)

He also dismissed popular views that fast-food jobs are meant for teenagers just entering the workforce.

"That's a romanticized version of a world that doesn't exist," Newsom said. "We have the opportunity to reward that contribution, reward that sacrifice and stabilize an industry."

In exchange for higher pay, labor unions have dropped their attempt to make fast-food corporations liable for the misdeeds of their independent franchise operators in California, an action that could have upended the business model on which the industry is based. The industry, meanwhile, has agreed to pull a referendum related to worker wages off the 2024 ballot.

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.

The moment was almost too much for Anneisha Williams, who held back tears as she spoke during a news conference just before Newsom signed the bill. Williams, a mother of six — seven if you count her beloved dog — works at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant in Inglewood.

Fast food workers hold a sign that reads "Fast Food Council Now!" outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento

Fast-food workers and union activists demonstrate outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento to rally support for legislation to increase hourly wages on Sept. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/File/Fox News / AP Images)

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"They’ve been with me on the picket line, and they’ve been marching with me as well," Williams said of her children. "This is for them."

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. That’s below the California Poverty Measure for a family of four, a statistic calculated by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Equality that accounts for housing costs and publicly-funded benefits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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