As part of a California law facing voters in the November 2024 ballot, lawmakers are pushing to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers from $15.50 to $22 per hour. One fast food president, however, raised his concern over the policy.
“Whether you’re a lawmaker, a business owner or leader or an everyday voter, one thing is clear: California has become a dramatic case study of putting bad politics over good policy,” McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger wrote in an open letter Wednesday.
The proposed legislation would not only raise minimum wage, affecting other top chains including Starbucks, but it would also seek to improve working conditions.
“The Next Revolution” host Steve Hilton echoed the statements of Erlinger while on “Varney & Co” Friday.
“McDonald’s offers, just as many restaurants in that category, a fantastic first job, way up the ladder for people. And that’s a great thing for our country,” he said. “What you do when you put in these absolutely absurd and unrealistic requirements is you just price people out of jobs. You’re already seeing in McDonald’s restaurants and others the rise of automation because it’s cheaper. This is just going to accelerate that, not just at the serving counter, but in the kitchen.”
Hilton emphasized the concerns of many opponents of the law, which was blocked in December 2022 by a Sacramento County Superior Court judge while ballot signatures were counted and verified. The referendum raised more than 623,000 valid voter signatures.
Opponents like Erlinger and Hilton argue that the law would burden owners of chain restaurant franchises and drive up the cost of food.
“Exactly as he said, you have mad politics over sensible policy. It’s a great summary of what’s going on in every area here in California,” Hilton said.
The law, if approved by voters, would establish a 10-member council empowered to set minimum wages and standards for hours and working conditions for California’s fast-food workers.
Two industry groups, the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association, promoted the referendum that would leave its fate to voters.
Despite opposition, the Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henderson explained in a statement that she remains confident California voters will approve the law.
“Despite fast food corporations’ efforts to distort the referendum process, we know California voters see through their tricks,” Henderson said in a statement. “No corporation is more powerful than half a million workers joining together to demand a seat at the table.”
Hilton added to his critique of the legislation that the minimum wage hike could cause fast-food workers to make more than some teachers.
“It depends on the exact place, but it’s not impossible.”
Voters will have substantial time to make their decision on the legislation as it will not be up for vote until November 5, 2024.
FOX Business’ Ken Martin contributed to this report.