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California fast-food workers launch historic union

McDonald`s fast food restaurant

California fast-food workers launch historic union

Hundreds of workers across California are set to join the newly formed California Fast Food Workers Union.

This marks the industry's first union and will be allied with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

SEIU is a prominent force behind the Fight for $15 campaign, which advocates for higher minimum wages.

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Union leaders aim to take advantage of years of nationwide organizing efforts.

These have already contributed to better wages and working conditions for workers in low-wage sectors. 

Minority Union

Joseph Bryant, SEIU's executive vice president, said: “We really hope this can be a model for workers not just in the state of California and not just in fast food, but throughout the country to have a voice to advocate for wages and standards.”

The union introduces a novel approach by starting as a minority union, representing a fraction of the industry’s workforce.

It has aspirations for growth despite potential obstacles. 

Members joining the union will contribute $20 monthly in dues to gain access to union support and resources. 

The union includes workers from major chains like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr., and Subway.

The Union is pushing for a 3.5 percent minimum wage increase over three years.

It also wants protection against unjust termination, and ensuring sufficient work hours for a livable income. 

The union also vows to support workers facing retaliation for union activities.

This has become a common issue within the sector, according to labor leaders.

Angelica Hernandez, a McDonald’s employee in Monterey Park and a proponent of the union, said: “We’re forming this union for the generations of fast-food workers that come after us so that they don’t have to deal with the many injustices that happen to us on the job.”

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Despite nearly two decades of service, Hernandez reports earning $18.19 an hour.

She says this is insufficient for a comfortable living in the Los Angeles area.

This union formation comes amid broader efforts to improve labor conditions in fast food.

It includes a recent California law establishing a fast-food council to negotiate statewide minimum pay and workplace standards. 

As a result of negotiations involving SEIU and fast-food corporations, California's minimum wage for fast-food workers will reach $20 an hour by April.

It would affect approximately 500,000 employees. 

However, this wage increase has been criticized by industry representatives, who argue it will significantly raise operating costs and affect food prices and restaurant viability.

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