Restaurant Group Pushes to Overturn California Fast-Food Wage Law
Workspan Daily
December 09, 2022

Restaurant and trade groups said they have submitted enough voter signatures for a ballot measure to try to halt implementation of a new California law that would set minimum hourly wages for fast-food workers in the state starting next year, The Wall Street Journal reports

A coalition of restaurant owners and business groups called Save Local Restaurants said Monday it had filed more than 1 million petition signatures to put the law on hold and place an initiative before California voters on the 2024 ballot. They had until Dec. 5 to submit roughly 623,000 valid voter signatures to place a question on the 2024 ballot asking whether the law should take effect. If voters side against the law, it could be struck down. 

The secretary of state must review the restaurant groups’ ballot signatures to determine whether the coalition has submitted enough valid ones for a statewide referendum. 

The California law, known as the FAST Recovery Act, could set the minimum wage for the fast-food industry as high as $22 an hour next year and establish new workplace standards. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the legislation last September, saying it would give fast-food workers a stronger voice in determining their wages and working environments. 

Fast-food operators have said that state health and labor agencies currently regulate their businesses, and owners would need to lay off staff and increase menu prices to afford the wage increases. 

The International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.-based industry groups that are co-chairing the coalition, said that the law would create an unelected council controlling state labor policy, and that they were committed to repealing it. 

The law has been set to take effect Jan. 1. However, if the state validates the referendum sought by the restaurant groups, implementation of the law will be put on hold for nearly two years during the referendum process, a victory for restaurants that have said the rapid pay increase would upend their businesses. 

SEC Urges Companies to Update Crypto Disclosures  

The Securities and Exchange Commission is sending a letter to U.S. public companies asking firms evaluate their disclosure obligations, including a "specific tailored disclosure," about how recent crypto bankruptcies and broader financial distress across the digital asset market may have hit their business, Yahoo Finance reports.  

The letter is intended to illustrate the type of comments the securities agency might send to public companies. 

“In meeting their disclosure obligations, companies should consider the need to address crypto asset market developments in their filings generally, including in their business descriptions, risk factors, and management’s discussion and analysis,” the SEC’s division of corporate finance said in its release. 

Asked whether cryptocurrencies needed their own set of tailored rules, SEC Chair Gary Gensler told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday the agency would enforce securities laws already in place. 

Gensler noted the SEC has already taken 100 enforcement actions against crypto firms, with a few dozen coming under his tenure. 

“The basic message that I have had is the same public message as private message," Gensler told Yahoo Finance. “Come into compliance. Your field will not last long outside of public policy norms.”  

The letter encourages companies to share how they safeguard customer crypto assets and what governance protocols they have set in place to prevent conflicts of interest. 

The agency also recommended firms discuss whether market conditions have affected how their business is perceived, how pending crypto regulation could affect financial conditions or business, specifically in the form of a company’s share price, customer demand, debt financing or legal proceedings "pending or known to be threatened." 

New York Times Staffers Go on Strike  

More than 1,000 New York Times staffers went on strike Thursday for the first time in over 40 years, The Wall Street Journal reports.  

The one-day work stoppage comes as contract negotiations between management and the members of the NewsGuild, which represents 1,450 Times staffers — including 1,270 newsroom employees — have stalled for nearly two years over pay and benefits.  

In separate memos on Wednesday evening, CEO Meredith Kopit Levien and executive editor Joseph Kahn expressed disappointment about the walkout.  

“Strikes typically happen when talks deadlock,” Kahn wrote in an email to staffers. “That is not where we are today.”  

The negotiations have centered around pay, retirement and other benefits. The two sides haven’t yet come to terms on wages, including the size of raises for the next four years, according to the union and Times management. 

During the bargaining process, the Times rejected a proposed wage floor of $65,000 for all Guild members, instead offering $62,500 in 2024, according to people familiar with the matter. The company recently offered a choice between keeping a pension plan or selecting a new 401(k) plan, a change from its initial proposal of replacing the pension with the 401(k). 

The labor tensions come as the Times is in the process of integrating The Athletic, a sports website that it bought for $550 million this year, into its lineup of offerings. The company, like other media outlets, also faces a challenging economic climate as advertisers pare back spending. 

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