Labor Group Demands $20 Minimum Wage Increase Be Applied to All CA Restaurants

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Apr 24, 2024

One Fair Wage, a labor group that advocates for fair wages, is calling for California’s new $20 minimum wage law to be applied to all restaurant service workers in the state.

Though many critics have stated that California’s new law, which went into effect on April 1, will drive menu prices up, this labor group is claiming that all workers in California need to be paid more.

California’s New Law

On April 1, California’s new minimum wage law officially went into effect. This law makes it mandatory for all fast-food workers to be paid at least $20 an hour.

A street with cars parked on it in Los Angeles, California in the daytime.

Source: Caleb George/Unsplash

Only fast food workers are impacted by this law — and only workers who are employed by an establishment that has at least 60 locations nationwide. Other regular small business or restaurant workers do not get this minimum wage raise.


An Increase in Pay

Labor groups have long fought for fast food workers to make a living wage, as the industry had not seen a notable increase in minimum wage for years.

A person handing another a ten-dollar bill.

Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

As California’s cost of living continues to rise, the government increased the minimum hourly wage for fast food service workers to allow their income to reflect this increase in cost of living.

Effects of This Law

While many fast-food workers have applauded this increase in minimum wage, many critics have claimed that this new law will negatively impact the industry as a whole.

A close-up of an In-N-Out building in the evening.

Source: Kevin Lanceplaine/Unsplash

Already, California has seen layoffs associated with this law. Many fast food establishments throughout the state have also raised menu prices across the board to still bring in profits while paying their employees more.

Helping Working-Class Californians

However, even with these issues after the law went into effect, labor groups across the state are still pushing for working-class Californians to see their hourly minimum wage be raised.

A group of workers at In-N-Out in California.

Source: Qi Li/Unsplash

One Fair Wage is one such group that is openly calling for more restaurant workers to see their wages rise to at least $20 an hour.

Why Workers Need More Money

One Fair Wage’s president Saru Jayaraman has talked about how many working class families cannot afford to live comfortably in California, thanks to the state’s high cost of living.

A McDonald’s modern building seen during sunset.

Source: Road Ahead/Unsplash

Many people now have severe home and food insecurity because of rising housing prices and inflation. Homelessness also remains a huge issue throughout much of California. Therefore, Jayaraman has stated that working-class people need to be paid more.


Surviving in California

Jayaraman has claimed that many regular people cannot survive in California.

Many people walking around and riding bikes on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Source: Jack Finnigan/Unsplash

“People are leaving the state or are not having children, not having families. These are all the very basics we should be thinking about for humans living in California and needing to survive,” Jayaraman explained. “I mean the level of crisis that people have been enduring since the pandemic is severe.”


Jayaraman’s Response to Critics

Many critics of this new California law have claimed that a higher minimum wage will only bring about even more job losses and hiked-up menu prices. Jayaraman rejects these allegations.

Businesses and restaurants seen in the daytime on a street in San Diego, California.

Source: Kara Peak/Unsplash

Jayaraman said, “That is the argument they always make. Every single time the minimum wage goes up, they always say it’s going to kill business, jobs will be lost, and we’ve never seen it happen. Not in California, not in any other state. It has never happened.”


Menu Price Increases

Jayaraman also talked about how menu prices have already increased — yet consumers are still buying the items.

A small Mexican restaurant seen on a street in Long Beach, California.

Source: Randy Laybourne/Unsplash

“Frankly, inflation has already happened, and many prices have already gone up. Grocery store prices have already gone up. And so, it’s not a matter of we can’t raise wages anymore because prices might go up,” she stated.


Consumers Are Dealing With High Prices

According to Jayaraman, consumers are continuing to deal with high prices at restaurants and fast food locations because of inflation.

Many people eating at tables at a restaurant in Malibu, California.

Source: Oxana Melis/Unsplash

If prices continue to rise because employers are now paying their employees a living wage, she believes that consumers will keep paying these high prices.


Helping the Economy

Jayaraman also believes giving employees a higher wage across the restaurant industry will help people in California survive, yet it will also aid the economy in the long run.

An In-N-Out employee working outside in the daytime in Los Angeles, California.

Source: Joshua Fernandez/Unsplash

People will have more money in their pockets, which will then result in people having more money to spend. This could help stimulate the economy.


Worries Remain

Despite Jayaraman’s claims against critics of this new California law, worries do remain for many throughout the state. Various restaurants have stated they will continue to raise prices, or cut jobs.

A worker at a restaurant in La Jolla, California.

Source: Jessica Tan/Unsplash

A better analysis of this law and how it has impacted California will be seen in the months to come, as fast-food restaurants get used to this increase in minimum wage.