California’s dream for fast food workers will hurt, won’t help

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It doesn’t happen often, but about a week ago a tweet made my day. Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s richest men, posted a photo of himself finishing a Big Mac and fries with the caption, “My first job. And still the same great burger. Happy Sunday!”

That’s right – the man who founded Amazon and created the most incredible distribution system in human history, got his start with a minimum wage job at McDonald’s. Equally impressive, despite the fact that his immense wealth allows him to eat any meal he desires, he sometimes still prefers a classic American burger and fries that virtually any American can afford.

In three short sentences, it was a tweet about so many things that make the American exceptional. It was about opportunity and a working class path to, well, wherever your ambition may take you. It was a dream – the American dream – that can actually come true.

MCDONALD’S USA PRESIDENT JOE ERLINGER CRITICIZES CALIFORNIA FAST-FOOD WORKER BILL

Of course, the usual suspects on the left attacked Mr. Bezos for the tweet. But their attacks cannot change the facts. A McDonald’s minimum wage job is where it started – and Amazon is where it ended. Any sane person would respect that.

FILE – McDonald’s Restaurant
(Stock)

Equally impressively, it said something very positive about American affairs. McDonald’s, a small restaurant started by two brothers in Riverside, California, has become a global icon because it offers products that people want – regardless of their wealth – at a price that virtually anyone can afford – regardless of their income. What a concept!

The success of this venture has created opportunities for millions of people who got their start in a quick service restaurant, Mr. Bezos being just one shining example. Personally, though not as successful as Mr. Bezos, I started working for minimum wage at Baskin & Robbins in Chagrin Falls, Ohio – and continued to live the American dream. Maybe that’s why I found Bezos’ tweet so uplifting.

FAST-FOOD FRANCHISEES SAY CALIFORNIA’S AB 257 COULD INCREASE COSTS AND HARM THE BUSINESS MODEL

Sadly, it literally took the progressive geniuses running the state of California a day to shatter that optimism. Literally the next day, California lawmakers passed a law called the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (“FAST”) raising the state’s minimum wage from an already generous $15 per hour to $22 for employees. quick service restaurants. Adding to California’s growing image as a dystopian state, the legislation would also create a new state commission with the power to determine not only the wages of these workers, but also their working hours and conditions.

The irony is that this bill would harm the very people it claims to protect.

Most workers earn more than their state’s minimum wage, and those earning it are likely teens or low-skilled/entry-level young adults working part-time. Nationally, the average hourly wage for restaurant workers is approximately $18.50 an hour, probably higher in California with its minimum wage already at $15. So what are the risks of increasing it further?

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Restaurants are already battling to recover from California’s severe pandemic shutdowns while keeping prices low in the face of inflation that is simultaneously driving up labor and raw material costs to unprecedented levels – ​​and at rates not seen in 40 years. If you add additional labor costs to these already crippling cost increases, few new restaurants are likely to open, and many are likely to close, as leases expire, or contractors simply give up. and move to Texas, Florida or Tennessee?

Restaurants that stay open will need to find ways to reduce labor, with automation a key component, including ordering kiosks and machines that actually make burgers without human intervention. With fewer restaurants opening, many closing, and those that remain open are struggling to cut back on the workforce, those job-creating opportunities that millions of people, including Mr. Bezos and myself, rely on. counted to start, will disappear like electricity and water in a Californian summer.

Unfortunately, for young Californians, it’s a lost opportunity never to be recovered.

FILE - California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference after meeting with students from James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

FILE – California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference after meeting with students from James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

How about these delicious, affordable burgers and fries? They, too, will be a thing of the past, as the few surviving restaurants will dramatically increase their prices to offset ever-increasing labor costs. Mr. Bezos will always be able to afford his Big Mac (and I my Carl’s Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger). But for many Californians, these items will no longer be affordable.

These results are far from difficult to predict. In a recent investigation economists from the Employment Policy Institute, a strong majority (83%) oppose the adoption of this law; 93% believed the cost of running a franchise would increase; 84% thought fewer restaurant chains would be willing to operate in California; 84% believed consumer prices would rise as business owners pass on higher costs; and 73% thought franchisees would close restaurants.

It’s really not rocket science.

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Hopefully California Governor Gavin Newsom, who once owned a restaurant or two, will see the dangers of this FAST legislation and refuse to sign it. The deadline is September 30. But unions and other progressive groups supporting this excessive government have backed Newsom in his recent recall fight.

Not supporting their efforts would require a level of political courage rarely seen in the former Golden State. Which explains why California is no longer the Golden State.

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