- Virginia has introduced a bill that would create a council to regulate wages and working conditions for fast food workers. HB 2478 would impact any fast food chain with more than 100 restaurants nationwide.
- The bill is markedly similar to California’s controversial AB 257, or the FAST Recovery Act, which will be voted on in November 2024 and has drawn fierce opposition from chains and the National Restaurant Association.
- When AB 257 passed in California, the NRA predicted other states might follow California’s lead. Both labor and industry representatives have told Restaurant Dive they expect similar battles in other states.
With Virginia’s House of Delegates and governor’s mansion in Republican hands, a sweeping change to labor law is unlikely to pass in the state. But there’s no guarantee a battle over such a bill will be limited to a single legislative term.
The bill would establish a commission to regulate fast food workers’ hours, working conditions and compensation. The council would also be required to hold public hearings and certify organizations to carry our biannual workers rights trainings.
This commission would include four state legislators, the governor or a cabinet-level official, two local elected officials, four representatives of the fast food restaurant industry, four fast food worker representatives and an unspecified number of citizen representatives from different geographical regions in Virginia.
Delegate Irene Shin (D-08) introduced the bill on Jan. 20, public records show. Shin’s top donor so far in the 2023 election cycle, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, was the Service Employees International Union, which donated $5,000 to Shin’s campaign. SEIU Local 32BJ, a building services local union concentrated on the East Coast, gave $5,000 to Shin in a previous electoral cycle. Among labor unions, SEIU has been the most public advocate for fast food industry council laws.
Virginia’s legislation signals that the political fight between organized labor and the restaurant industry over fast food standards continues to grow.