The Fast Act is already rippling beyond fast food

Working Lunch: Proposals in Massachusetts and Virginia are proof the wage-setting model called for by California's first-of-its-kind law is spreading geographically and across job types.

If doubts persisted that California’s landmark fast-food wage rules would spread to other types of jobs, they’re gone now. Proposals to duplicate the Fast Act model for setting pay in other fields have already surfaced in Virginia and Massachusetts, as listeners will learn from this week’s edition of the Working Lunch political podcast.

Co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley, the principals of the government-affairs consultancy Align Public Strategies, detail how legislation echoing California’s controversial Fast Act has already been introduced in New York, Massachusetts and Virginia.

Only the Virginia bill is focused on changing the way fast-food workers’ wages and working conditions are set. The Massachusetts measure focuses on a new model for ride-share drivers like the gig workers associated with Uber and Lyft.

It, too, would set up a council to set wages and working conditions, albeit for drivers rather than fast-food cashiers or kitchen workers. But, Kefauver and Coley asserted, the development is still worrisome for restaurant employers because it’s another advance of what’s known as “sectoral bargaining,” or having employment contracts negotiated across a whole industry. All employers within a field would be obligated by the outcome of the collective bargaining.

Under California’s Fast Act, for instance, the conditions set by a Fast Food Council would be binding on any quick-service restaurant that’s part of a chain with at least 100 branches nationwide.

The more that model is embraced, the greater the likelihood that restaurant employers will be facing sectoral bargaining in their jurisdictions, Kefauver and Coley agreed.

“Any win for sectoral bargaining is a loss on the Fast Act for the restaurant industry,” said Kefauver.

For more on the spread of Fast Act-like legislation, download this week’s episode of Working Lunch from wherever you get your podcasts.

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