Fast-food minimum wages are likely to rise in California as labor makes gains during hot strike summer

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 by Snacks
It’s a double-double (Leonard Ortiz/Getty Images)

It’s a double-double (Leonard Ortiz/Getty Images)

Animal Style Burger… with an extra-crispy paycheck. From In-N-Out fry cooks to McDonald’s managers, half a million people in California work in fast food (the most of any state). Now those workers are set to get a pay bump under a new deal between unions and the restaurant industry. Starting in April, fast-food chains in the Golden State with 60 or more US locations will have to pay workers at least $20/hour — up from the current minimum of $15.50, which is already among the highest in America. It’s not just a win for workers… 

Fries with a compromise… If approved by the state’s legislature, the deal would replace a law passed last year that restos basically hated. That law would’ve established gov’t-appointed advisory councils for the fast-food industry. The councils would’ve had extra oversight over restaurants — including the ability to raise the industry minimum wage to $22/hour. 

  • McDonald’s, which led the opposition to councils, seemed happy with the new $20/hour deal, saying it avoids legislation that hampers restaurant autonomy. 

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to sign the bill if it passes, with a spokesman calling it “a win-win for workers and businesses.” 

  • Labor is notching wins in other industries, too, as #HotStrikeSummer intensifies. UPS staff nabbed a 48% raise and the United Auto Workers demanded a 46% bump.


A happy medium is rare… and we’re not talkin’ burgers. Cooperation may beat coercion in labor disputes, but we’re seeing some heated standoffs as corporate contract offers fall short of workers’ demands. The UAW could be poised to strike against the Big Three automakers this week as bitter negotiations drag on. In Hollywood, actors and writers have been on strike for months with no end in sight.

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