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Completely fed up Latinas helped push for California’s junk food law

Completely fed up Latinas successfully helped push for a law that provides California fast-food workers more say on wages, hours and working conditions.

Driving the news headlines: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the JUNK FOOD Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, or AB 257, on Labor Day despite major opposition from business groups, who said it could make running a fast-food business much harder and much more expensive.

  • Todays action gives hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table to create fair wages and critical safe practices standards over the industry,” Newsom said in a statement.
  • Ingrid Vilorio, an employee at Jack in the Box, said in Spanish throughout a news conference that passing the bill “was a battle of Goliath versus David and we just had our voice to make sure AB 257 became possible.”
  • She added that workers “know its not over, its the start. Were likely to keep working in order that these half million workers have a voice.”

The picture as a whole: Regulations will shift some power over working conditions to California junk food workers, 60% of whom are Latino.

  • Junk food workers have long said that junk food restaurants exploit them and offer unsafe working conditions.
  • It generates a council with the authority to determine standards for wages and working hours and conditions. The council includes businesses, government representatives and workers.
  • The very least wage set by the council will be capped at $22 one hour in 2023 and at the mercy of the buyer price index in future years.

What theyre saying: Whether its my voice or another junk food worker, wed be at the table with the firms, the corporations, Lizzet Aguilar, an easy food worker with 27 years in the market, told Axios the other day.

  • Wed be speaking for several junk food workers. It could impact my entire life greatly because there wont be so many injustices, Aguilar told Axios in Spanish.
  • Aguilar, of the LA area, said unsafe working conditions through the first stages of the pandemic, including too little personal protective equipment, pushed her to the edge after years of coping with bad bosses and unpaid overtime.
  • Aguilar, 41, said she was fired in one restaurant for complaining about poor working conditions and contains dedicated her free time to promoting the bill by knocking on doors, making media appearances and attending protests. She still works in junk food.

Labor advocates cheered the legislation and so are already seeking to duplicate it in other states, Axios Emily Peck reports.

  • “It is a groundbreaking bill, more likely to result in more empowered workers,” David Madland, a senior fellow at the guts for American Progress, tells Emily.
  • Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said in a statement on Monday that AB 257 is “the most important advance in workers fight for fairness face to face in a generation.”
  • Workers everywhere are stepping to their power, and theyll take their fight to any business in virtually any industry,” she added.

Another side: The Stop AB 257 campaign, made up of companies, criticized Newsom for signing the bill.

  • By signing AB 257 into law, Governor Newsom have not leveled the playing field but rather targeted one slice of Californias smaller businesses and consumers who depend on counter service restaurants to feed their own families,” the campaign said in a statement Monday.
  • “As individual employers and neighborhood restaurants over the state, we shall use every tool at our disposal to safeguard our consumers, workers, along with other job providers from the pain and havoc which will derive from enacting this bill.”

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