The times may be turbulent, but people across the country are making their voices heard. Everywhere from the big city of New York to the smaller towns in Wyoming, people are putting democracy into action to make changes – both big and small. This may not be more true than on the streets of California.
Restaurant workers have often been unhappy with the low, stagnant wages for years, but those wages may soon be changing. Historically, there haven’t been many positive changes in hourly wages. That is until recently, with the passing of the Fast Act.
If you’re outside of California, this may not seem like a big deal, but the Fast Act may significantly impact for restaurant workers and franchises in other states. It’s best to understand the Fast Act now and be prepared for the changes it could bring.
What is the Fast Act?
The Fast Act is a bit controversial and still very new. Law AB 257, the legal title for the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (nicknamed the Fast Act), was recently signed into law by California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, on September 5, 2022. This bill hopes to give a voice to the backbone of the restaurant industry – the workers.
Previously, the minimum wage was decided at the state or federal level. Many industry workers feel this is unfair because these entities are far removed from the struggle of those in the industry.
Thanks to the Fast Act, a council of fast-food workers and union representatives, will now decide the minimum wage. Giving workers a seat at the table means their voices will be heard, giving them more power to make the changes they want.
Not only that, but restaurant employers will also fill four council seats. This will keep equality and transparency and allow for a more open dialogue between invested parties in the restaurant industry. Each panel member will be selected and appointed by California state officials, not elected.
As the council comes together, they can decide to raise the minimum wage to nearly $22 per hour by next year. The increases can continue annually, correlating to the Consumer Price Index, a yearly federal report.
The council’s power’s scope isn’t limited to wage increases. They also have the ability to decide some workplace standards in the fast food industry. This just increases the strength and voice of workers across the state.
How Will The Fast Act Affect Your Restaurant?
These changes sound great, but not just restaurant workers will see the impacts. Restaurant and franchise owners will also need to be aware of these changes.
An increase in the minimum wage will increase other wages in the long run. Workers currently making above the minimum will want to see their own wages increase at a proportionate rate. All of this can impact food prices and the bottom line.
Those who oppose the new law are concerned it will have the reverse effect – hurting workers rather than helping. This law has the potential to give power to unelected officials. At the same time, it will likely increase the overall cost of business function, which can mean layoffs and cutbacks.
Though the law has been signed at the highest state level, it doesn’t take effect until the first of next year. A group of restaurant owners and interested parties are forming a coalition to put a stop to the Fast Act. The process to derail the act is two-fold: 1. Obtain enough signatures, 2. Get it on the ballot for a state-wide vote.
For those outside of California, the Fast Act is quickly gaining traction in other states. Workers from Nevada to Massachusetts are clamoring for higher wages and better working standards.
The winds are changing, and power is going back to the people. Today it’s the restaurant industry and fast-food workers, but tomorrow? Who knows.
Revisiting Restaurant Efficiencies
A way to combat wage raises for your restaurant is by taking a closer look at your operations. How efficient is your back-of-house? How often are you training your staff, and are they retaining the information? When was the last time you examined your menu? There are plenty of areas to improve that, simply put, not all restaurant operators take the time to review. For professional assistance in analyzing your restaurant ops, contact Synergy today.