Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Thursday that will ensure state fast food workers are paid at least $20 an hour, making it the highest minimum wage of any state in the country and a significant increase from California’s current $15.50 rate, which has been scrutinized for falling well below the state’s living wage.
The law will go into effect next April 1 and applies to restaurant workers at chains that have at least 60 locations nationwide.
The law also establishes a fast food council with the power to increase the wage by 3.5% each year through 2029 or the annual change in the consumer price index, whichever is lower.
The council will be made up of members representing the fast food industry, the workers’ side and one unaffiliated member of the public who will serve as chair.
The new minimum wage marks the end of a years-long battle between workers and the restaurant industry, which was preparing to spend more than $100 million fighting the bill, according to NBC.
About 500,000. That’s the approximate number of employees the law will apply to, according to PBS.
Another worker-specific law will go into effect in New York City after a judge on Thursday blocked Uber, DoorDash and GrubHub’s attempt to stop the city from implementing a $18 minimum wage for delivery workers.
West Hollywood, California, has one of the highest minimum wages in the country at $19.08. The rate will be in effect until next June, when it will increase by the consumer price index adjustment.
California’s fast food workers made an average of $16.60 per hour and an average wage of $34,530 as of last May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the rate is among the highest in the country, workers have taken issue with the gap between it and California’s living wage, which is $21.24 for one single adult or $43.44 for an adult with one child, according to MIT’s living wage calculator. California legislators passed a separate bill for healthcare workers this month that would bring the minimum wage to $25. If passed, the law won’t apply to doctors and nurses but will include those who do everything else at hospitals, dialysis clinics and other healthcare facilities, according to the Associated Press.