California’s largest union filed a complaint with state officials on Thursday, accusing a fast-food coalition of violating state election rules in its campaign to block a landmark labor law from taking effect.
The California Service Employees International Coalition filed a complaint Thursday with the California secretary of state and its attorney general’s office, which focuses on a September referendum to repeal AB 257, a bill introduced by the governor. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Labor Day. Unions have launched legislation called the Quick Recovery Act to strengthen protections for fast food workers.
Business trade groups, fast food companies and franchisees are backing a vibrant and costly voter signature collection process that “deliberately misleads voters” in the sprint for the November 2024 public vote, unions claim. The petition circulaters hired for the referendum have approached voters and asked them to sign the petition under the false pretence that the effort was aimed at raising the minimum wage for fast food workers, the complaint said.
Instead, the referendum effort will allow voters to decide whether to overturn the Fast Track Recovery Act, which created a first-of-its-kind committee of workers, company representatives and state officials with the power to raise the minimum wage for franchise restaurant workers due next year. Up to $22.
The commission’s mission is to set industry standards for minimum wages, hours and other conditions for fast food restaurant workers across the state.It’s a model that could change the way workers negotiate standards with employers, not just in California but across the U.S.
Throughout the legislative process, fast-food companies and franchisees have argued that it unfairly singles out their industry and creates higher labor costs for operations and skyrocketing food prices.
The coalition pushing to overturn the law to save the local restaurant said in a statement that it “has been maintaining compliance with California election law,” adding that it found the complaint “boring.”
“This is yet another shameless attempt by SEIU to impose a law on Californians that they don’t want and can’t afford,” said the coalition led by the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association.
The coalition said that, in line with past criticism, the new law would raise food prices and ultimately “cause thousands of jobs to be lost and force local businesses to close”.
The coalition says it has collected “nearly one million” signatures so far: “As voters overwhelmingly oppose this misguided law, we are collecting hundreds of thousands more than the law requires.”
It is standard practice to collect more than the minimum number of signatures, as some signatures may be considered invalid.
how many complaints Instances of petition signature collectors misrepresenting issues. One contracted distributor in Los Angeles has repeatedly said the petition is “to raise the minimum wage,” while another in Stockton, Calif., asked to sign a “petition to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to $22.” an hour,” the complaint states.
Richard Rios, an attorney with Olson Remcho, a law firm representing the union, wrote in the complaint: “The campaign literature, materials and other information clearly demonstrate their efforts to persuade voters to sign on based on false and misleading information. petition.”
The complaint states that California’s election law makes it a crime for referendum supporters and those they hire to distribute referendum petitions to engage in any “tactic that willfully misrepresents or willfully makes any false statement about the content, intent, or effects of the referendum.” . petition. ”
SEIU California’s complaint calls on state authorities to “immediately investigate” and take action against Save Local Restaurants, a coalition of California small business owners, restaurateurs, franchisees and others who supported the referendum and individual petition communicators , “willfully and knowingly made and displayed false statements” to persuade voters to sign the referendum petition.
The Times reviewed video footage from organizers working with SEIU’s $15 campaign, which showed four different interactions, which referendum petitioners described as a move to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers.
In a video reviewed by The Times, $15 organizer Cherie Wallace asked a petition distributor who approached her, “So it’s about raising the minimum wage to $22. ?”
The petition circulated repeatedly falsely assured Wallace that signing the petition would raise workers’ wages.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
“Why call it a challenge?”
“We have to get more documents to review it, which is why we’re trying to get more signatures.”
“So we need more signatures to get it to $22?”
Wallace continued to point to the petition on the petition dispenser clipboard and read it word for word.
“To me, that shows it’s challenging it. Why is it ‘challenging’ it?”
The petitioner was silent, and Wallace prompted him again, asking if signing the petition would definitely help raise wages.
He assured her: “This is for the employees of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. It’s going to help them.”
To appear on the November 2024 ballot, referendum supporters would need to submit some 623,000 voter signatures by December 12. 4. AB 257 will take effect in January. 1, but if the referendum is eligible, the law will be put on hold until voters can participate.
Times staff writer Melissa Gomez contributed to this report.