Empower workers or government overreach? California’s fast food bill tests labor laws – Times-Herald

California is considering radical proposals amid growing inequality and work awareness that don’t pay enough to raise children and live. To allow the state to negotiate wages, hours and working conditions across the industry.

Proponents of the state council say one solution to inequality is to allow workers to negotiate through unions, but frequent turnover, inexperience and intimidation organize workers. That’s not the case in the fast food industry, where it’s very difficult to do. Only 3% of fast food and counterworkers belong to unions across the country.

Sacramento states to set industry-wide minimum standards for wages, working hours and working conditions through a union-backed democracy proposal called the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Restoration Act, or the FAST Restoration Act. A council appointed by is established. If passed by a state council member and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the proposal will hold compliance responsibility not only for local franchisee owners, but also for corporate franchisors.

“California has the opportunity to really move forward in a way that can work for both workers and employers,” said David Madland, Senior Advisor to the American Workers Project at the American Progress Center in Washington, DC, a liberal. Is thinking. tank.

The bill approving the FAST Recovery Act, AB 257, passed the state legislature last June with less than three votes, eight Democrats voted negative, and another 13 voted negative. Newsom did not take a position.

Bill author Lorena Gonzalez suddenly resigned in the first week of January and was converted to chief officer of the California Labor Federation with strong support from major state labor groups. And this problem is expected to surface again this year. suggestion.

Service Employees International Union, one of the country’s largest unions, has vowed to continue pushing the bill. It funds the $ 15 battle and a coalition campaign to organize low-wage workers primarily to advocate better wages and working conditions in fast food. The rally is scheduled for Wednesday at the State Capitol, and Speaker Anthony Rendon may assign authorship to the Commission or another member.

“We are still considering the progress of this bill,” said Rendon spokesman Katie Talbot.

Deal with low wages and poor situations

Proponents who launched the website say they need a FAST Recovery Act to deal with low wages and poor conditions for workers. California fast-food workers (mostly colored, Latino, and female) will earn an average of $ 14.73 per hour in 2020, with California’s minimum wage rising to $ 15 for most companies this month. Did. Proponents also point out that they are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and are more likely to encounter injuries, wage thefts, customer assaults and harassment.

A new report from the UCLA Labor Center records dangerous conditions during a pandemic, with nearly a quarter of the workers surveyed infected with the virus. Less than half of employers said they provided COVID-19 workers with paid sick leave as required by state and federal law.

Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food and Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “But it may be very good to see these truly innovative sector-wide power building strategies that change the entire sector.”

The idea of ​​negotiating industry wages and working conditions, rather than individually for each workplace, has been modeled for many years in Europe and around the world. Known as “sectoral negotiations,” it has gained support among US progressives such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as a way to reduce income inequality.

Studies on sectoral negotiations in other countries have found evidence that it tends to reduce inequality and raise the rank of unions — with a few notable exceptions. However, many European studies have shown that sectoral negotiations can reduce a company’s profits and productivity. A 2015 survey found that sectoral negotiations increased layoffs during the Great Recession in Europe.

True sectoral negotiations are rare, as under current American labor law, multiple employers must voluntarily agree to come to the same negotiating table as the worker, the American Progress Center said. Madland, a researcher at the company, said. He says the United States achieved this in the automotive industry over a century ago, and railroad workers are now benefiting from the deal.

But unlike in other countries, Americans “workers cannot claim negotiations with multiple employers,” he said.

California’s proposal paves the way for the state by directing negotiations to an 11-member council of fast food workers, franchisees, franchisors, and state health, safety, and labor authorities. Members are appointed by the governors and leaders of the State Senate and Parliament. The rules are reviewed every three years and, unlike traditional collective bargaining, are enforced by state agencies. The law applies to all restaurants belonging to fast food chains with more than 30 franchises.

Opposite from business, moderate Democrat

This is a very controversial proposal with opposition from the division of the industry, Republicans and Democrats.

Before the bill failed to vote in parliament in June, Rancho Cordoba’s moderate Democrat, Ken Cooly, said that the power given to the unelected council “would undermine the rule of law.” “There is a problem,” he said.

Business groups are also firmly determined that the government will not participate in private negotiations. They claim that the free market adjusts wages as needed, and many California fast-food restaurants pay $ 17 or $ 18 per hour to attract workers in a labor shortage. Citing the fact that it has been raised to. Republicans said the bill is an example of a minimum wage job and a government overkill that destroys small businesses. Meanwhile, a coalition of lobbying organizations that oppose the bill, including 40 local and ethnic chambers of commerce, has launched a website with the slogan “Stop takeaway.”

“People who pay for the Lorena Gonzalez initiative are not” evil companies. ” “It’s the working people who rely on fast food,” said Will Sweim, president of the right-wing California Policy Center.

Industry groups also question whether a new model is needed as California is known for the country’s strictest labor standards, such as setting a $ 15 minimum wage first and protecting against heat stroke. Was presented.

“It’s ridiculous to throw them all into this test case on the panel,” said Matt Sutton, senior vice president of the California Restaurant Association.

Sutton also said the increased liability of the FAST Recovery Act to corporate franchisors could increase costs and drive fast food chains out of the state. Franchise owners testified at hearings that the bill could change the franchise model, tighten corporate regulation and reduce independence for local owners.

Mikaela Mendelzone, a franchise owner of several El Poyos, said: Loco restaurant at a spring inquiry.

State-imposed negotiations

Gonzales also said he believes his bill is not the best solution. She states that the state government should not engage in the negotiating business, but rather maintain a “private sector approach to reducing income inequality.” Gonzales further said trade unions are doing a better job of addressing the needs of workers on a workplace-by-workplace basis, rather than the universal state labor law that employers contend with and the government enforces unevenly. Added.

But given that companies continue to fight the union’s impetus and the US Congress is stuck in reforming federal labor law, a FAST recovery law is needed to help workers, and to trade unions. Hope to encourage further support.

“Maybe individual fast-food franchisees and restaurants say: We’re negotiating, but that’s what the workers at my workplace really want,” Gonzales said. “It will be a great solution.”

But for now, San Jose Democratic Party lawmaker Ash Kara, who chairs Parliament’s Labor and Employment Commission, said the government needs to act if labor unionization campaigns fail in the low-wage industry.

“It’s the only way you can do it in some of these industries,” Kalra said. “Working in the workplace is almost impossible.”

Fast food workers protest

The two McDonald’s workers agreed. In various California franchises, both organized a two-week strike during a pandemic and were backed by a $ 15 fight.

Imelda Arroyo earns $ 15.50 an hour at McDonald’s in Auckland. After paying $ 1,950 for rent, she has little left for her 7-year-old daughter. Single mothers feel they deserve better wages, health insurance, paid sick leave, and “a place where we can explain our concerns” before going on strike.

“Fast food workers like me don’t have a union,” Arroyo said. “At least we want to get something like AB257.”

Another worker, Imelda Rosales, her weekly hours 40 to 27 hours after protesting dangerous working conditions and unpaid sick leave at McDonald’s in a small desert town near Palmdale last winter. He said it was shortened in time.

Franchise owner Andrew Malokin said the restaurant adhered to paid emergency leave for all employees and did not retaliate, but Rosales disputes his claim.

“We must fight in a hurry so that the law can pass,” Rosales said. “And then continue (fighting) for the union.”

This article is part of the California Divide Project, a collaboration between newsrooms investigating California’s income inequality and economic survival.

Empower workers or government overreach? California’s fast food bill tests labor laws – Times-Herald Source link Empower workers or government overreach? California’s fast food bill tests labor laws – Times-Herald

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