California’s Fast-Food Workers Just Got a Pay Bump

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Wages went up today for roughly half a million of the lowest-paid Californians.

In the fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a bump up in the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour, significantly above the general statewide minimum of $16 an hour.

The law takes effect today, propelling California fast-food workers to near the top of what minimum-wage earners make anywhere in the country, second only to the $20.29-an-hour minimum for many employees in Tukwila, Wash., a small city outside Seattle.

Though there have been questions about exceptions for some workers, California’s new law generally applies to fast-food locations in the state that are part of chains with more than 60 locations nationwide.

My colleague Kurtis Lee wrote about the winners and losers under the law, which supporters hope will be replicated nationwide: “To backers, it is a step toward fair compensation for low-wage workers who faced significant risk during the pandemic. To opponents, it is a cataclysmic move that will raise food prices, lead to job losses and force some franchisees to consider closing.”

Read Kurtis’s full article on how the law is affecting workers and employers.

The fast-food workers’ minimum-pay bump was approved last year along with another law that will raise the minimum wage for all health care workers in California to $25 an hour by 2029. Those two laws were California’s first statewide minimums for specific economic sectors, and experts say they are a testament to both the high cost of living in California and the current popularity of organized labor.

California’s current overall minimum wage, which increased to $16 from $15.50 on Jan. 1, already exceeded that in most other states — only Washington State’s and the District of Columbia’s are higher. Californians will vote in November on whether to push it up more, to $18 an hour.

There are dozens of cities and counties in California with higher local minimums. The highest in the state is West Hollywood’s, at $19.08 an hour. Mountain View, Emeryville, Sunnyvale, Berkeley and San Francisco, which all require at least $18 and change, are next on the list.

After a lush winter, flowers are in bloom across California. Send us your best photos of the glorious springtime display to, and we may publish them in the newsletter. Please include your full name and the city in which you live.

A new women’s sports bar is scheduled to open in Long Beach in the next few months, part of a growing network of sports bars in the country that primarily show women’s sports, LAist reports.

The bar, called Watch Me, is the passion project of Jax Diener and her wife, Emme Eddy, who say they have dreamed for years about opening a bar that has an inclusive environment and shows women’s sporting events.

The bar will feature food options for all dietary restrictions and already has partnerships lined up with local teams, including the Los Angeles women’s soccer team Angel City F.C. and the women’s basketball team L.A. Sparks. It will also, of course, have games around the clock to satisfy Southern California’s die-hard women’s sports fans.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at

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