The Full Employment for Robots Act: California’s New Fast-Food Minimum Wage
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a groundbreaking legislation that has been dubbed the Full Employment for Robots Act. While that may not be its official name, the implications are clear: California’s new fast-food minimum wage will be a staggering $20 per hour, a significant $4.50 increase compared to the state’s minimum wage for other industries.
The government of California believes that fast-food workers should have the opportunity to turn their jobs into long-term careers, rather than just being seen as entry-level positions for teenagers. Governor Newsom stated, “We have the opportunity to reward their contribution, acknowledge their sacrifice, and stabilize an industry.”
A Cruel April Fools’ Joke?
However, the implementation of this new wage rate is likely to have unintended consequences. Starting from April 1st next year, the $20 minimum wage may inadvertently lead to the rise of automated systems in the fast-food industry. We have already witnessed the emergence of self-checkout lanes and ordering kiosks, and there are reports of robots being developed to prepare food. It seems that the law may inadvertently accelerate the automation of jobs in the industry.
It’s worth noting that the $20 minimum wage only applies to fast-food workers employed by companies with more than 60 nationwide locations. Other industries and companies will continue to adhere to the $15.50 minimum wage.
Interestingly, companies that make their own bread on-premises, such as Panera Bread, are exempt from this new wage requirement. It’s just another example of the peculiarities of California’s labor laws.
Underlying the wage increase is the effort by unions to organize fast-food workers. In exchange for supporting the $20 wage, unions in the state have agreed to halt their push to hold franchising corporations liable for the actions of independent franchisees.
While this new law may be seen as a victory for fast-food workers, it may also have unintended consequences. Consumers should be prepared for potentially higher prices at California fast-food restaurants in the near future. And who knows, maybe tipping the robot will become the new norm.
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