California’s fast-food law goes before 2024 voters


A California law aimed at raising wages and improving working conditions for fast-food workers will be put in voters’ hands.

The initiative could overturn a first-in-the-nation law passed last year. 

The law affects more than a half-million fast food workers. 

The referendum raised more than 623,000 valid voter signatures to be placed on Nov. 5, 2024, election ballot, Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber announced. 

The law establishes a 10-member council empowered to set minimum wages and standards for hours and working conditions for California’s fast food workers.  

Two industry groups, the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association, promoted the referendum that would leave its fate to voters. 

Opponents, who raised more than $10 million last year to fund the referendum campaign, argue that the law would burden owners of chain restaurant franchises and drive up the cost of food. 

The law was temporarily blocked from taking effect in December by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge while ballot signatures were counted and verified. 

The measure would have raised employee wages to as much as $22 an hour by the end of this year for chains such as McDonald’s and Starbucks that have 100 or more outlets nationwide. 

California’s current minimum wage for all workers is $15.50 an hour. 

Both sides are expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to entice voters in the referendum fight. 

The Service Employees International Union remained confident that the law will survive the election. 

“Despite fast food corporations’ efforts to distort the referendum process, we know California voters see through their tricks,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henderson said in a statement. “No corporation is more powerful than half a million workers joining together to demand a seat at the table.”