IFA Remains Concerned About California’s FAST Act

California FAST Act

Legislation could add to regulations, costs for fast-food franchises

Matt Haller, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association (IFA), continues to sound the alarm regarding the FAST Act, aka California Assembly Bill 257. The proposal was narrowly defeated during the state’s last legislative session but is expected to be introduced to the state’s assembly again this year.  

If the FAST Act were to become state law, it would lead to creation of an appointed – not elected – body called the Fast Food Sector Council. Under the legislation, this council has the authority to establish new workplace policies in California’s fast-food restaurants and create joint liability between franchisors and their California-based franchisees.

In rallying opposition to the bill in a Capitol Weekly editorial, Haller writes that: 

  • The FAST Act, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), would replace existing labor laws with rules put in place and enforced by 11 political appointees to the Fast Food Sector Council. 
  • The legislation would create a second layer of local unelected councils in cities larger than 200,000 residents.
  • It requires franchisors to strip franchisees of autonomy thus changes the status of franchisees from independent business owners to corporate middle managers.

Haller also points out that many restaurants already are on shaky ground because of the pandemic, which has led to a decline in indoor dining because of the perception that it is risky, plus laws/ordinances (mask mandates, employee Covid-19 testing requirements, etc.) that have heightened operational challenges for restaurant owners as compared to 2019 and previous years. Other exacerbating factors include an increase in food prices, supply-chain disruptions and a labor shortage.

The editorial by Haller further says that the FAST Act puts franchises “under attack” and expresses his belief that the FAST Act’s regulatory changes affecting fast-food restaurants – many of them franchises, of course – will open the door to new regulations in other segments of the franchise industry. Haller’s editorial emphasizes that franchising is a proven route to business success and that franchisees bring economic benefits to their communities in ways such as creating jobs, paying taxes, and supporting local civic organizations and charities.

Through lobbying efforts by the IFA and the grassroots efforts it has inspired, leaders of the franchise industry such as Haller hope they can persuade California lawmakers to vote down the bill for a fourth time.

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Mary Vinnedge is an award-winning journalist who has served as editor in chief, managing editor and senior editor at national and regional publications, including SUCCESS and Design NJ magazines. She also held reporting and editing roles at The Dallas Morning News and Charlotte Observer newspapers.

Before Mary began covering franchise news and trends as a staff writer for FranchiseWire and Franchise Consultant Magazine, she developed articles on topics ranging from lifestyle, education, health and science to home projects, horticulture, gardening, interior design and architecture. These articles included her reporting on academic news at her alma mater, Texas A&M University, when Mary worked in the marketing department of the Texas A&M Foundation. She continues to be a news junkie and subscribes to several publications.

Today Mary and her husband are empty nesters living on Galveston Island near Houston. The couple’s blended family – scattered around the United States – includes five children, four grandchildren and two very spoiled, very barky miniature schnauzer rescues.
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