- Mike Blount
- Communications Director
SACRAMENTO – (Tuesday, April 27, 2021) – Low-wage workers in the fast food industry have long faced issues of wage theft, sexual harassment, health and safety hazards, discrimination, and workplace violence that only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Assembly Bill 257 authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to raise workplace standards in the fast food industry was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 7 to 3 vote.
“Fast food workers have continued to face overlapping crises during the pandemic. The old system was failing at protecting workers against retaliation and unsafe working conditions,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “As we move out of this pandemic, we need laws that are centered around empowering worker voices, because we can’t just go back to the way things were.”
AB 257, known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards (FAST) Recovery Act, would ensure fast food workers at large chain establishments are empowered to shape industry-wide workplace standards by establishing a statewide Fast Food Sector Council that includes workers, state agencies, and industry representatives. The council would be responsible for reviewing and creating health, safety, and employment standards in the fast food restaurant industry, allowing workers to hold companies accountable for providing safe working conditions.
“California’s fast-food workers are fighting to be heard,” said Maria Ruiz, a San Jose McDonald’s employee. “The pandemic has underscored the urgent need for frontline workers like me to have the power to set safety and standards in our workplaces. AB 257 would bring us to the table to with decision makers who have ignored our voices for far too long.”
More than 70% of California's approximately 556,000 fast food workers are Latino, Black and API and live in communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. In more than 200 complaints filed with state and local health agencies, workers have detailed harrowing working conditions such as COVID-19 outbreaks in their stores, being asked to wear doggie diapers or coffee filters as masks, and being forced to work sick under threat of retaliation.
The FAST Recovery Act would clearly prohibit fast food management from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for filing a complaint regarding workplace safety, participating in a proceeding relating to public health and safety, or refusing to perform work that would be considered unsafe.
For questions or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Mike Blount: Mike.Blount@asm.ca.gov