McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger criticizes California fast-food workers bill

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McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger slammed California's fast-food workers bill in a post Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 257, also known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, creates a Fast Food Sector Council consisting of union representatives, workers, employers and two state officials that will set wage rates, working hours and other standards for fast-food workers. 

Any minimum wage rate set by the council cannot exceed $22 per hour in 2023, and cost-of-living increases are scheduled for years beyond 2023.

Proponents of the bill have argued it will address unsafe conditions, wage theft and other issues, while opponents say it could increase costs and harm the fast-food sector.

FAST-FOOD FRANCHISEES SAY CALIFORNIA'S AB 257 COULD INCREASE COSTS, UNDERMINE BUSINESS MODEL

A McDonald’s restaurant in Citrus Heights, Calif., July 7, 2012. (iStock / iStock)

Both chambers of the California Legislature passed the bill. It is now on its way to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk. Newsom has not publicly stated whether he will sign it.

Erlinger argued in a post on McDonald's corporate website that AB 257 "targets some workplaces and not others" and also "imposes higher costs on one type of restaurant, while sparing another."

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The council's standards would apply to workers at fast-food restaurants that are part of chains with 100 or more locations nationwide, absent valid collective bargaining agreements. Establishments that operate bakeries that produce bread for sale as a stand-alone menu item are exempt, according to the text of the bill.

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The McDonald's USA president expressed support for "raising minimum wages for workers" and said "aggressive wage increases are not bad.

"But if it's essential to increase restaurant workers' wages and protect their welfare — and it is — shouldn't all restaurant workers benefit?" he posited.

A McDonald’s drive-thru. (iStock / iStock)

He called the bill "lopsided, hypocritical and ill-considered legislation" that "hurts everyone," noting economists said the legislation could increase fast-food prices.

UC Riverside School of Business Center for Economic Forecasting and Development's recent analysis found if AB 257 became law and the council set fast-food worker wages 20% higher, food prices in such restaurants would increase by about 7%. The International Franchise Association supported the research.

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AB 257 becoming a model for similar legislation in other states "would be terrible," Erlinger said, adding that workers, owners and customers "should be asking lawmakers to only consider legislation that benefits all."

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