SAN DIEGO- Workers in the fast food industry are celebrating an increase in wages to a minimum of $20 an hour starting in April 2024, thanks to a state law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
“It is a great victory to earn a little to pay expenses, food, credit cards because one is up to his neck in debt,” answered Sergio Valderrama, a worker for about 20 years in the industry.
Valderrama said he lives with his wife and two children in a studio in San Diego. With two jobs, one of them at McDonald’s in Del Mar, it was difficult for him to support his family amid the high cost of living in the province.
“It’s disappointing that you don’t have anything better to give them because I want to give them a home and not have to fight,” Valderrama said in tears.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, fast food workers in California earn an average of $16.60 an hour. In other words, below the state’s poverty rate for a family of four.
But when the law goes into effect (April 1, 2024), the minimum wage for that worker will be $20 an hour. The legislation applies to chains with at least 60 establishments in the country, benefiting more than 500,000 employees.
Fast food workers have a pay increase to $20 an hour.
“Okay, it’s worth $20,” said Alexis Ruiz, a worker at Roberto’s Taco Shop. “One way or another it will help me and everyone else.”
In addition, the law creates a fast food council to develop and establish employment standards, how to improve working conditions.
According to the governor, 80% of the workers are people of color and 2/3 are women. Most of the industry’s employees are suppliers and heads of households, Newsom added.
“We have an opportunity to reward their contribution and sacrifice. It’s amazing,” Newsom declared in front of a crowd of workers.
“Maybe I can save a little money, maybe help my son go to school now,” concluded Valderrama on how he plans to use the increase.