The Number Of Victims is Growing of New $20 Fast Food Minimum Wage Law – California Globe

For months, things have continued to go from bad to worse for fast food companies and their employees in California. Following the signing of AB 1228 in October by Governor Gavin Newsom, the new $20 minimum wage for fast food employees, a massive jump from the $16 minimum wage, has had multiple companies take extreme measures.

Some, like Chipotle and McDonalds, have announced already raised prices before the wage raise date of April 1st. Others are investing in automated kiosks and other automated devices to help reduce the number of employees. Some stores outright closed. Most notable, however, has been the massive amount of layoffs. Already, over 1,200 Pizza Hut drivers have had announced lay-offs, with drivers to be replaced by services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats in the coming months. Many other chains are currently also looking into doing the same for deliveries.

The Globe spoke with several of the affected drivers on Tuesday about the layoffs and what the new $20 minimum wage law means for them now.

“When that minimum wage law was passed, I just sort of knew about it,” said Jose, a Pizza Hut driver in L.A.

“We all did,” added “Jim,” a co-worker of Jose’s who wished to remain anonymous. “There were a few people really for it, but they got quiet about it around the managers. The managers, and the big boss who came by, they didn’t speak too often about it, but the few times they did, they said something like “It’s going to be hard to keep you all on board”. Before it was even a law, they knew something bad was going to happen.”

Both said that they were scared for months.

“I came to LA 15 years ago, and I’ve been trying to keep my head above water ever since,” continued Jose. “I’ve had to worry about legal status, getting married, the recession, having kids, keeping our house. This, this new minimum wage, I thought it would finally be something good. Tipping has gone down in the past few years since everywhere is demanding tips now, and this would have gone a long way.”

“Scared? Yes,” said Jim. “Management were increasing their doom saying after the bill was signed. There was a rumor that drivers wouldn’t even be needed anymore. At first, I didn’t believe that. But in the weeks before the official announcement, it started getting real. I actually had a few small panic attacks about it. You know, what was I going to do and all.”

But when the day came, the blame didn’t go the way most thought it would.

The firings caused by AB 1228

“At first, I was so pissed off at management,” added Jim. “They gave the word, the corporate company that runs these stores, and I really lashed out at them. But then my dad explained the dollars and cents about it. These stores would need to pay a higher wage without any more income coming in. I was still very mad, still am, but I saw how this wasn’t, like, corporate greed or anything. They were just getting squeezed. And being nervous was passed down to the kitchen, who is now fearing layoffs now too I should add.”

“I, as well as pretty much everyone else here, is blaming whoever wrote that law or bill or whatever. There are a few who are saying that Pizza Hut is doing this out of greed or that they could have cut costs elsewhere, but most are like maybe this went up way too fast. Some workers benefit, others are now out of a job. So the guy who wrote it, [Assemblyman] Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), as well as anyone else who thought this was a good idea. Great job. We hate you forever now. I’d say some other things, but I don’t think you can print them. But really, great Christmas gift guys. I hope you get the same in November.”

Jose had a different point of view.

“I am mad, but I am more worried right now. I have a wife, a family. I want to work and I need to work. Delivering pizzas wasn’t glamorous. You know, you think of having a job in California, pizza delivery man isn’t one to impress exactly. But there is dignity to it. I like driving the streets of LA in our area at night, seeing the light of downtown in the distance. I like delivering pizzas to people and asking the score, in English and in Spanish. During the pandemic, we were a lifeline to some people.”

“I guess I blame the person who wrote it, but I want to tell them who they are hurting. People with families, like me. Kids out of college trying to make ends meet. People looking for a better life here and sending money back home to help their family. People burnt out on life trying to make a second chance. This is a side hustle to many too, making ends meet.”

“To the people who think this is helping people out. It is only helping some out. There are many more being left behind because of you, because you thought this was the right thing. And we thought it was too for awhile. You helped some, but made life horrible for others. They need to know this.”

More lay-offs caused by the higher minimum wage are expected to be announced in the coming months in the leadup to the $20 minimum wage for fast food worker raise on April 1st.

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