California’s $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers is actually a compromise
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California is setting one of the highest minimum wages in the country for fast-food workers: $20 an hour. Believe it or not, that’s a compromise that fast-food companies are on board with, because they dreaded the alternative.
California’s new law doesn’t just raise wages. It establishes a new state-wide council with fast-food workers participating to advise on industry reforms.
“Creating a council that can solve wage theft, and sexual harassment, and race discrimination, and health and safety issues that fast-food workers are experiencing is the game changer,” said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union, which spearheaded the fast-food workers’ campaign
Still, the council is advisory — a compromise that companies won. They won another important change: There’s no longer a provision to make corporate parents legally liable for the actions of franchisees.
“The joint liability provision that is now no longer a threat would have essentially turned the franchise model into the corporate model,” Henry said.
“You essentially turn individual owner-operators franchisees in California, essentially, into middle managers, right?” said Jeff Hanscom of the International Franchise Association. “You eviscerate the equity that they have built in their businesses over their lifetimes.”
A $20 minimum wage to avoid that outcome, Hanscom added, was a worthwhile compromise.
California’s new law takes effect next April.
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