New California law raises minimum wage for fast food 

Sacramento (AP)— California's Democratic leaders will boost the minimum wage for fast food employees to $20 per hour next year, acknowledging that majority of the frequently neglected sector are the primary earners for low-income homes.

The highest guaranteed base income in the business will go to California fast restaurant employees on April 1. State minimum wage for all other workers is $15.50 per hour, among the highest in the nation.

Labor organizations in the nation's most populous state have organized fast food employees to better their salaries and working conditions, as Newsom's signature shows.

It also settles labor-business disputes over industry regulation, at least for now. Labor unions have shelved their quest to hold fast food businesses accountable for the actions of their independent franchise owners in California, which could have upended the industry's economic model, for better compensation. 

“That was a tectonic plate that had to be moved,” Newsom said of the more than 100 hours of negotiations needed to pass the laws in the closing weeks of the state legislature session.

The new minimum wage for fast food employees applies to eateries with at least 60 outlets nationwide, excluding Panera Bread, which makes and sells its own bread.

According to the BLS, California fast food employees earn $16.60 per hour, or little over $34,000 per year. This is below the California Poverty Measure for a family of four, estimated by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Equality to include housing and public assistance.

The $20 minimum wage is only the beginning. The Fast Food Council can raise that salary each year through 2029 by 3.5% or the change in U.S. Consumer Price Index averages for urban wage earners and clerical employees, whichever is lower.

Another set of low-paid California employees waiting for a minimum wage raise will be the focus now. A second law passed earlier this month to progressively boost the health care minimum wage to $25 per hour over a decade. Doctors and nurses wouldn't get that rise, but most hospital, dialysis, and other health care workers would.

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