FAST Recovery Act bill would create fast food regulatory council in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Fast food workers across California went on strike Thursday in support of Assembly Bill 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act.

Also known as the FAST Recovery Act, the bill would create a council within the state’s Department of Industrial Relations that would set wage and other working condition standards for the fast food industry.

The bill is similar to efforts by healthcare workers in the state looking to create their own industry-wide board in charge of working conditions.

The California statewide chapter of the Service Employees Internation Union (SEIU) said workers would also hold a 24-hour vigil on the West Steps of the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass the FAST Recovery Act.

Assembly Bill 257 was passed by the Assembly in January 41-21 and sent to the Senate where it has yet to come to a vote.

“The vast majority of California’s more than half a million fast food workers are people of color and experience rampant wage theft on top of being paid some of the lowest wages in the state,” SEIU Communications Organizer Belle Lopez said in an email. “California fast-food workers are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other workers in the state and 52 percent rely on public assistance programs.”

Opponents of the bill say it will limit opportunities for employees and reduce the number of jobs in the food service industry.

“Fewer restaurateurs will open establishments in California, which means fewer jobs in a critical industry,” Stop AB 257 said on its website.

Workers also demonstrated in front of Jack in the Box headquarters in San Diego where, according to officials with the Fight for $15 campaign, which helped organize the strike, 14 demonstrators blocking the entrance were arrested.

“Fast-food is an essential part of California’s economy, and our jobs should support healthy families and strong communities — not keep us tired and hungry,” said Ingrid Vilorio, a Jack in the Box worker in Castro Valley. “…I’m fed up with waiting for these companies to change, so I’m going on strike to win the power to sit at the table and demand our elected officials support our fight to improve our industry and build a better California for all.”

The FAST Recovery Act would define a fast food restaurant as subject to the council’s regulation if it is an establishment that is part of a set of 30 or more fast food restaurants nationally that “share a common brand” or that are “characterized by standardized options for decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services.”

Fast food restaurants are defined as establishments that serve food in disposable containers for immediate consumption either on or off the premises with limited or no table service to customers who order or select items and pay before eating.