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Central Coast fast food workers react to wage increase

SALINAS, Calif. (KION-TV)- Since Monday, a new era began for employees who work in fast food restaurants.

"From earning $16.78 to earning $20, it is something and a big difference, we will be able to buy things like food that sometimes we have to refrain from buying, but I know that with the salary of $20, we will be a little better off." said Lizzet Aguilar, a McDonalds worker.

In September 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring fast food restaurants with more than 60 locations to increase wages to $20 an hour.

Some of those fast food restaurants include McDonalds, Taco Bell, Subway, and more.

People on the Central Coast said workers deserve that and more.

"I feel happy, happy for them because they deserve the $20 because they do a lot," said Maria Escobar, who lives in Salinas, "It gives us food when we need something quickly."

A Taco Bell worker told me off camera that she is happy with the increase in her salary, because she said that everything is very expensive, but restaurant owners said that they are a little worried about the salary increase for fast food employees.

"Raising the salary and then raising the price of the dishes would be the same thing," said Leopoldo Becerra, owner of Villa Azteca, "We will be affected because people would prefer to go somewhere else to eat."

Leopoldo Becerra, owner of Villa Azteca in Salinas said, although he is a little worried about the news of the salary increase for fast food workers, he is happy for them because he says they all have to earn a fair living.

At the same time, he believes that his restaurant's expenses will increase if he decides to increase the salary of his employees.

For experts, the increase has positive aspects. "They are more productive at work, and it's good for the owners," said San Jose State Economics Professor Patralekha Ukil, "When your workers work well they are more productive, and when that happens the owners make more money."

There are more than half a million fast food workers in the state, Governor Gavin Newsom said when signing the law.

The median wage for hourly fast food workers in California was $17.89 an hour, according to Glassdoor data.

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Nataly Gutierrez


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