Posted April 2022 by S. Ward Heinrichs
FAST Recovery Act: Fast-Food Workers May Get Labor Representation
AB 257, the FAST Recovery Act, would provide fast food workers with sector wide representation. An 11-member council, appointed by the California Governor, would promulgate minimum standards for health, safety, working conditions, training, and wages for the entire fast-food industry.
The appointed members of the council will consist of persons who represent fast-food workers, government agencies, franchisees, and franchisors. The competing interests that normally sit across the table in union negotiations will be in the 11-member council. Thus, the council minimum standards should be similar, in theory, to agreements negotiated by unions and management teams. However, the types of appointments required by AB 257 appear to favor worker interests over franchise interests.
The composition of the AB 257 council, on the one hand, requires appointment of one representative for franchisors and one representative for franchisees, while, on the other hand, it requires appointment of five government representatives, two representatives of fast-food workers, and two representatives of advocates for fast food restaurant employees. The government representatives are the following: 1 from the State Department of Public Health, 1 from the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, 1 representative from the Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement, and 2 from the Department of Industrial Relations.
If the Senate approves AB257 and Governor Newsom signs it into law, it would apply to fast-food restaurants operating under a common brand or restaurants that share standardized decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services. However, the FAST Recovery Act, and any regulations adopted by the 11-member council, would not apply to small restaurant chains. Only restaurant brands and fast-food chains with standardized operations that have at least 30 stores nationwide would be subject to the FAST Recovery Act.
Businesses qualify as fast-food restaurants when they primarily provide food in the following way: 1) In disposable containers, 2) For immediate consumption either on or off the premises, 3) With limited or no table service, 4) To customers who order or select items and pay before eating.
AB 257 holds corporate franchisors liable when franchisees breach its provisions or the provisions of other labor laws, such as, key portions of the Labor Code. Similarly, it allows a franchisee to sue the parent franchisor for franchise agreement terms that cause the franchisee to breach AB 257 regulations.
Employment Law Office of Ward Heinrichs
4565 Ruffner Street, Suite 207
San Diego, CA 92111