Fast-food workers turn up the heat and continue the fight for a FAST Recovery
As the summer heat turns up, so does the fight to win fast-food worker justice. A vital part of ensuring California’s fast-food workers win the right to form a union, earn competitive wages, have substantial benefits, and get respect in the workplace is passing Assembly Bill 257 through the state senate.
The bill, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act or FAST Recovery Act. AB 257 will guarantee California fast-food workers the ability to shape industry-wide workplace standards and give them the power to hold corporations accountable for sticking to those standards.
Throughout the pandemic, California fast-food workers have gone on strike at over 300 locations to make it clear that workers need a seat at the table to ensure safety for ourselves and our families. Among the most recent strikes were workers walking out at an Oakland Burger King on International Boulevard.
Workers at the Burger King restaurant had faced several violent incidents and workplace injuries, including customers jumping the counter. In response to a dire situation, management only bought workers a taser as a final solution to workplace safety.
“This is my first time working in fast food. In less than eight weeks of working at this store, I have experienced several instances of violence,”said Alondra Hernandez Cayetano, a Burger King worker who help led the strike on June 27.
“The systems created for us aren’t equipped to handle the greed of global fast-food corporations who squeeze workers and franchisees,” Alondra continued. “The only way to fix the fast food industry is with workers having a seat at the table.”
Later, on July 8, workers came together in San Jose for a roundtable discussion by U.S. Representative Ro Khanna on their plan to win AB 257, the FAST Recovery Act. Workers recounted workplace safety issues and the need for livable wages.
“I have my kids come with me to my strike so they can see what a difference we can make. We’re strong, and all we do is unite to make this place better,” said Crystal Orozco, a Sacramento McDonald’s worker, during the roundtable discussion.
“I lived for six months in my car with my two youngest. When I was able to save up to rent a room, my two youngest were affected by bed bugs.” Maria Bernal, a Sacramento Jack in the Box worker, explained how hard it was to provide for her kids even while working full-time.
“We don’t know if somebody is going to come and just insult us or try to steal food and injure us while doing that. And this happens every day. It should NOT be considered normal,” said Alondra Hernandez Cayetano.
“With AB 257, we can sit at the table, make decisions, share our experiences to learn, and make this industry better. We don’t want to shut down these restaurants, we want to keep working and make it better [for all].” Ingrid Vilorio, a Jack in the Box worker, spoke about the vital importance of passing the FAST Recovery Act.
If passed by the state senate and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the FAST Recovery Act would create a statewide Fast-Food Sector Council – which would include workers, government officials, and industry representatives – to set minimum health, safety, and employment standards across the California fast-food industry. The bill would require fast-food giants to ensure all their restaurants have the necessary resources to operate safely and that franchisees can provide good jobs with benefits without being undercut by corporate franchisors.