‘Fair work’ ordinance introduced for fast food workers in Los Angeles

‘Fair work’ ordinance introduced for fast food workers in Los Angeles

‘Fair work’ ordinance introduced for fast food workers in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Los Angeles City Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez on Tuesday introduced a motion aimed at providing the city’s fast-food workers with more stable hours and paid time off.

Soto-Martinez’s Fast Food Fair Labor ordinance aims to expand the city’s Fair Work Week ordinance, which became law in 2022 and requires employers to provide retail workers with their schedules in advance. It covered about 2,500 large fast food restaurants and about 50,000 workers.

Current city regulations also require companies to give workers at least 10 hours of rest between shifts or provide adequate compensation.

The new proposal would establish mandatory six hours of paid training to educate workers about their rights, as well as provide fast-food workers with one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours they work.

“What we’re putting forward today is a way to provide respect to some of the people who traditionally haven’t had it through our city laws,” Soto-Martinez said during a news conference outside City Hall.

The councilman’s proposal was opposed by members of the Save Local Restaurants coalition, which includes restaurant owners, business groups and fast-food restaurant brands. The group says the proposal would threaten the viability of local restaurants and increase food costs for already struggling families.

“Nearly a decade ago, I opened my first Jersey Mike’s franchise to build a future for my family and leave a legacy and a strong business for my children. I am concerned that it is now in jeopardy,” Juancarlos Chacon, owner of nine Jersey Mike’s locations in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Since the higher state minimum wage went into effect, I have had to raise my menu prices and reduce employee hours to make ends meet.”

He added: “I cannot absorb any additional costs without making drastic changes, including closing one or more of my restaurants. I hope the Los Angeles City Council rejects this terrible idea that will hurt not only franchisees, but also workers, who will ultimately lose their jobs.”

Soto-Martinez said her proposal is aimed at giving fast-food workers more time to enjoy their families and friends, and attend weddings, medical appointments and other important moments.

The California Fast Food Workers Union and the Service Employees International Union support the proposal.

“Too many people don’t know our rights or where to go to report workplace violations,” said Jaylene Loubet, a McDonald’s worker and member of the California Fast Food Workers Union. “Too many of us can’t afford stable housing because of our unpredictable schedules… Today, a path to change is opening up.”

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor also backed the proposal.

In 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 1228, which created a statewide Fast Food Council and set a minimum hourly raise for fast food workers of $20. The law went into effect in April.

According to Soto-Martinez’s office, California’s fast food industry has gained approximately 10,600 new jobs as a result of the law.

However, fast food businesses have said the law has forced them to raise prices on menu items and has hurt their business.

“I have reduced employee hours by 10% and have been forced to raise prices to meet the state minimum wage increase. I cannot absorb any more costs,” said Behzad (Ben) Salehi, owner of Blaze Pizza franchises in Northridge and Encino. “Unnecessary, costly, and duplicative ordinances like these make small business owners hesitant to expand in the City of Los Angeles. Enough is enough. Stop attacking small business owners like us who create jobs and generate revenue for the City.”

Soto-Martinez’s proposal is expected to be heard by council committees before a final vote by the full City Council.

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