Bill that aims to raise wages for fast food workers heads to California Gov. Gavin Newsom

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom will soon decide whether to create a council to set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions for workers at fast food franchises, a measure that has pitted business and labor groups against each other.

Lawmakers voted to send the measure to Newsom on Monday. The measure passed with the bare minimum number of votes needed in the Assembly and the Senate.

The bill has been a priority of labor unions, which argue it is needed to address high rates of wage theft, retaliation for workers trying to organize and health and safety violations in the fast food industry. It is also backed by Fight for $15, a group that advocates for raising the minimum wage for all workers.

Opponents of the measure, including the California Restaurant Association, the International Franchise Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, argue the bill would raise prices for fast food restaurants and that it unfairly singles them out for additional regulations.

Under the bill, the Fast Food Council would be formed if at least 10,000 fast food workers sign a petition calling for its creation.

It would include two representatives each for fast food workers, worker advocates, the overarching fast food chains, individual franchise restaurant operators and state government. Members would be appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the Senate Rules Committee.

The council would develop standards for fast food franchises with more than 100 restaurants across the country, including McDonalds, Chipotle and In-N-Out Burger.

“This bill creates a 10-member council composed of workers and government appointees that will work together to raise standards industrywide,” Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles, said. “It will be effective because it gives employees and franchisees a voice in setting the rules.”

Republican senators argued forcefully against the bill, saying it would lead to more unionization, raise prices and cut jobs.

“I’m offended by the fact that the Legislature seems to continually get involved between employers and employees,” said Sen. Brian Dahle, R-Bieber (Lassen County), who is a candidate for California governor. “This is a stepping stone to unionize.”

Sophia Bollag is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sophia.bollag@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SophiaBollag

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