California fast food workers could get $20 minimum wage in 2024

Amid a battle over a bill passed last year that would have raised the minimum wage for California’s fast food workers to $22 an hour, it appears workers might have to settle for a $20 an hour minimum wage instead. 

The legislature is set to consider Assembly Bill 1228, which would amend a bill passed last year that would have set off a larger minimum wage for workers. Implementation of the prior bill was blocked as the fast food industry led a petition against the bill. 

The new legislation would go into effect in April 2024 if approved.

McDonald’s was among several companies objecting to the previous law. According to state data, In-N-Out, Chipotle, McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A all spent over $11 million to oppose the $22 minimum wage law.

McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger said the prior bill would not help employees and could drive up costs by 20%. Additionally, a council that would include representatives from restaurants and franchises would be tasked with creating standards for working hours and minimum safety standards.

Lawmakers contended that the previous legislation goes beyond a minimum wage for workers. They said that fast food operators failed to protect workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Restaurant Association, which spent over $5 million opposing the hikes, expressed concerns the legislation would spur similar efforts to raise minimum wage for fast food workers elsewhere. 

“We cannot allow for these same walls and hurdles to be built in other jurisdictions, so we’ll invest our time and resources in making sure this noxious legislation doesn’t spread,” Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of public affairs for the National Restaurant Association, previously said. 

The updated proposal still needs approval from the state’s Democratic-led legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.