Fast-food workers in California to earn $20 an hour in 2024

What to know about the Fast Food Council and the statewide industry wages.

September 29, 2023, 3:03 PM

More than 500,000 fast-food workers in California will soon earn at least $20 an hour as a result of a new bill signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom joined labor leaders, legislators and fast-food workers in Los Angeles on Thursday, hailing the achievement as a result of the group effort to increase the state's minimum wage for fast-food employees.

A behind-the-scenes shot of employees in an In-N-Out kitchen, March 20, 2023, in San Francisco.
Chan Long Hei / Sopa Images/Sipa USA via AP

"California is home to more than 500,000 fast-food workers who for decades have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions," Newsom said. "Today, we take one step closer to fairer wages, safer and healthier working conditions, and better training by giving hardworking fast-food workers a stronger voice and seat at the table."

The legislation, AB 1228, "authorized the Fast Food Council to set fast-food restaurant standards for minimum wage, and develop proposals for other working conditions, including health and safety standards and training," a press release from Newsom's office said.

The newly established Fast Food Council is comprised of a nine-person group that has two representatives from the fast-food industry, two franchisee or restaurant owners, two employee representatives, two employee advocates and one member of the public. The council was created to ensure that workers have a stronger say in setting minimum wages and working conditions, including health and safety standards.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the fast food bill surrounded by fast food workers at the SEIU Local 721 in Los Angeles on Sept. 28, 2023.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

"Today’s victory is just the beginning," Ingrid Vilorio, a California fast-food worker and leader in the Fight for $15, said. "From day one of our movement, we have demanded a seat at the table so we could improve our pay and working conditions. This moment was built by every fast-food worker, both here in California and across the country, who has bravely gone on strike, exposed the issues in our industry and made bold demands of corporations that we knew could do better by their frontline workers. We now have the power to win transformational changes for every fast-food cook, cashier and barista in our state. We hope that what we win here shows workers in other industries and other states that when we fight, we win!"

What to know about new minimum wage in California

A customer picks up a meal bag at a McDonald's drive-thru window in Los Angeles, Sept. 28, 2023.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

Starting April 1, 2024, the minimum wage for the state's 500,000 fast-food workers will increase to $20 per hour. The average hourly wage in 2022 was $16.21.

The new law allows the council to increase the minimum wage annually from 2025 through 2029, but it cannot exceed a 3.5% increase or the annual change in the Consumer Price Index, a measurement set by the Bureau of Labor statistics on average prices of goods and urban wage earners.

It will also "allow the council to develop and propose other labor, health or safety standards for rule-making by the appropriate body," the release from Newsom's office said.