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California Fast Food Workers Union


In 2012, 200 fast food workers walked off the job in New York City to demand $15/hr and a voice on the job through a union, launching the international movement of Fight for $15 and a Union movement. Inspired by the strikes in New York, fast food cooks and cashiers went on strike to demand $15/hr and a union in Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, Durham and hundreds of other cities around the world.

Due to the actions of Fast Food Workers in California, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the first-in-the-nation law instituting a $15/hr minimum wage in 2016 with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo following suit just hours later. With the stroke of a pen, 10 million workers—one-fifth of the U.S. workforce— was on a path to $15 an hour. 

In 2020, workers at two corporate McDonald’s stores in Los Angeles and San Jose, walked off our jobs on three separate occasions in 24 hours to protest against the company’s failing response to the COVID-19 crisis. They kicked off a wave of spontaneous strikes and protests that swept across the California fast food industry and throughout the country for months, showing the strength they had been building for years. 

In 2021, California fast food workers launched a statewide campaign for AB 257, the FAST Recovery Act, first-of-its-kind legislation to protect and empower the state’s fast food workers through a Fast Food Sector Council with the ability to set industry-wide standards around pay, training and working conditions. 

Due to our push, Governor Gavin Newsom marked Labor Day by signing AB 257 into law.  However a multi-million dollar referendum effort backed by companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, In-n-Out and others halted the law’s implementation in January 2023.

In the yearslong fight to win a voice on the job through AB 257, California fast food workers waged more than 450 strikes and filed nearly 400 health, safety and wage complaints with local and state agencies, painting a stark picture of an industry in crisis and pushing lawmakers to take action.

The passage of AB 257 marked a watershed moment, not just in California, but in the nation’s labor history, giving more than half a million low-wage workers in the fast food industry a meaningful voice on the job. The victory comes almost 10 years after fast food workers launched the Fight for $15 and a Union movement, transforming the national conversation around wages and workers’ right to have a say in our own working conditions. 

In September 2023, AB 1228 was amended to strengthen AB 257’s Fast Food Council and secured a $20/hour statewide raise for more than half a million California cooks and cashiers.

While winning our fight for a seat at the table, we joined coalition efforts to ensure low wage workers have access to Medical, Paid Sick Leave, and stronger workplace standards.