Fast food pay is on the rise

Wages will potentially increase by almost 50% in 2023, sparking debate about workers’ rights, business success and inflation.

Phoebe Vrable, News Editor

In August, California Gov. Gavin Newsom began the process to pass The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, or the FAST Recovery Act (AB 257). Since then, Newsom signed the act into law and filed with the secretary of state on Sept. 5. Along with protecting workers’ rights similar to union practices, the bill will raise the minimum wage to $22 an hour, requiring fast food chains to meet this threshold. 


Although these changes are not expected to go into effect until Jan. 2023, both restaurant owners and workers have vocalized the future possibilities when the bill is enforced and economic shifts ensue. Yes, this bill does apply to college students’ highly esteemed Starbucks

According to PBS, many fast-food workers experience wage theft and have little protection or future prospects for their position. Workers hope that the FAST Recovery Act will amend these grievances and provide a healthier, more motivating atmosphere for fast food employees. According to Gov.Ca, the new bill will “set minimum standards for workers in the industry, including for wages, conditions related to health and safety, security in the workplace, the right to take time off from work for protected purposes and protection from discrimination and harassment.”

On the other hand, many business owners and consumers are highly critical of the act, feeling constrained to unattainable, creativity-killing standards within the restaurant industry. Not only do small business owners fear their branch will deteriorate particularly if they only own one, consumers also acknowledge the dramatic price increase for fast food that will likely result. 


Sophomore nursing major Linnea Hoodman, who works at In-N-Out Burger, explained that at her chain, wages have always been above the minimum — something which the company is very proud of. In her experience, she has not been on the receiving end of uncompensated efforts. She also expressed that working in the fast food industry has helped her to develop life skills such as how to manage stress and handle customer service issues. 

Hoodman said that at In-N-Out Burger, wages are both ensured and competitive. Employees begin at a baseline set above minimum wage and are encouraged to develop their career prospects by being promoted from within the company. These different tiers of associate positions, which are another characteristic the franchise is proud of, are generally well received by employees

Hoodman said that although she had not heard about the FAST Recovery Act, the prospect felt “kind of scary” to her. 

“We’re just closer to the bubble bursting,” she said. After affirming that a pay raise would definitely be nice, she also voiced concern about inflation and another market crash. 

“I’m biased,” admitted Hoodman. “Of course there are days when I’m stressed,” she said; however, the benefits and overall enjoyment outweigh those difficulties. 

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