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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Fresno

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Fresno, CA. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Fresno's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Fresno. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Fresno, CA. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Fresno, CA

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Fresno,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Fresno, CA

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Fresno, CA

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Fresno, CA

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Fresno, CA, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Fresno, CA

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Fresno, CA

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Fresno, CA.

 Greek Grocery Store Fresno, CA

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Fresno, CA

Latest News in Fresno, CA

In Fresno, CA Attorney General Pushes ‘Blueprint’ for Industrial, Neighborhood Balance

In a busy day in Fresno, state Attorney General Rob Bonta held two listening sessions with community members and met with elected leaders at all levels of government.Earlier this year, Bonta waded into the controversy of building industrial sites in parts of the city and Fresno County. He warned county officials in a letter that moving forward with industrial plans could violate state law.Bonta told a group of about 15 community members gathered at the Friends of Calwa building that industrial development can go hand-in-hand wi...

In a busy day in Fresno, state Attorney General Rob Bonta held two listening sessions with community members and met with elected leaders at all levels of government.

Earlier this year, Bonta waded into the controversy of building industrial sites in parts of the city and Fresno County. He warned county officials in a letter that moving forward with industrial plans could violate state law.

Bonta told a group of about 15 community members gathered at the Friends of Calwa building that industrial development can go hand-in-hand with environmental protection.

“Economic investment and economic prosperity can live side-by-side with justice,” Bonta said.

After the meeting, Bonta provided an update to GV Wire about talks between his office and the county.

“We have been in conversation with some of the county leaders and we’re still in conversation with them to address our needs and the areas of concern that we raised and we hope for a resolution. I think communication is important. The fact that there is some is positive, but we have not resolved our concerns yet. And so we’re going to continue to see what we can get,” Bonta said.

He had meetings with county officials scheduled for later in the day.

Bonta compared what could happen in Fresno with a similar situation in Fontana (San Bernardino County). His office sued and later settled with the city of Fontana on a warehouse project. Bonta said the development was too close to schools and other sensitive areas.

“We got involved in a way that allowed for there to be buffer zones and electrification and uplifting and protection of the communities while a warehouse was still built,” Bonta said.

“That was, I believe, nation leading. It was precedent-setting and provides a good blueprint for the answer to your question, how do you do both? And I think we’ve all been caught, many of us have been caught in a fallacy that (industrial and environmental) is mutually exclusive — that you can only have one, but you can’t have the other, that you can’t have both. If you care about both and lift them both up and think and plan and fight for a solution, you can get both. And we showed it in Fontana and we intend to show it in other places as well,” Bonta said.

Bonta held his first community meeting in the morning in south central Fresno, hearing from residents about environmental concerns.

He also heard similar concerns in Calwa.

The complaints ran the gamut from a lack of sidewalks and limited grocery options to air pollution.

“Industrial is not what Calwa needs,” Friends of Calwa director Laura Moreno told Bonta.

Calwa resident Milena Alvarez told the attorney general that local politicians aren’t listening to their concerns.

“Politicians are neglecting all of that, you know, hiding it under the carpet,” Alvarez said.

Bonta spent most of the hour listening, thanking the group for their input.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer has said in the past that the city plans to annex Calwa. That idea is premature for Moreno.

“When the city comes and talks to the community of Calwa, then we can have a say in what they’re trying to do. But he (Dyer) hasn’t even come to Calwa.”Laura Moreno, director of Friends of Calwa

“We haven’t had the city actually come and talk to the community of Calwa. So, when the city comes and talks to the community of Calwa, then we can have a say in what they’re trying to do. But he (Dyer) hasn’t even come to Calwa,” Moreno said.

Today, community leaders from South Central Fresno, Southeast Fresno, Calwa and rural Fresno County are welcoming @AGRobBonta to discuss concerns with industrial development in their neighborhoods. pic.twitter.com/VoOd3bowh8

— Leadership Counsel (@LCJandA) August 9, 2022

Bonta had meetings scheduled on Tuesday afternoon with Dyer and other officials from the city of Fresno; Fresno County supervisors Steve Brandau and Buddy Mendes, along with other county officials and Lee Ann Eager with the Fresno Economic Development Corporation; and Assemblyman Joaquin Aramubla, and Rep. Jim Costa.

“It was a good meeting,” Mendes told GV Wire.

Mendes said they discussed the county’s general plan, and industrial parks. They did not discuss Bonta’s letter to the county from earlier in the year.

Moisture in Fresno brings clouds in Valley, but possible thunderstorms in the Sierra

A cloud covering over Fresno early Monday gave little relief to what was expected to be a record-breaking high temperature, according to forecasters.Labor Day’s predicted 109 degrees was expected to be the first of three straight days of record highs, which are expected to peak Tuesday at 114, according to meteorologist JP Kalb with the National Weather Service in Hanford.Sunday’s high of 107 tied the previous...

A cloud covering over Fresno early Monday gave little relief to what was expected to be a record-breaking high temperature, according to forecasters.

Labor Day’s predicted 109 degrees was expected to be the first of three straight days of record highs, which are expected to peak Tuesday at 114, according to meteorologist JP Kalb with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Sunday’s high of 107 tied the previous record.

The clouds Monday morning were the result of tropical moisture blowing into the region and are typical for the type of weather seen in the San Joaquin Valley, Kalb said. But, there was not enough moisture for precipitation in the Valley.

The message to residents was simple, Kalb said: “Stay as cool as possible, and stay hydrated,” he said.

The moisture drifting into the region led to predictions of possible thunderstorms in the Sierra Nevada, the weather service said. Those storms bring gusty winds, bursts of rain and lightning.

The weather service recommends residents go inside if they see lightning or hear thunder and wait 30 minutes before going out again.

California’s power grid faces a potential energy deficit Monday amid the widespread heat wave, raising the prospects of blackouts around the state.

“We are looking at deficits for tomorrow, Monday, in the 2,000 to 4,000 megawatt range between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” Elliot Mainzer, chief executive of the Independent System Operator, told reporters Sunday.

The ISO sounded a Flex Alert for a fifth straight day Sunday, with electricity consumers asked to scale back power usage from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. A key component of that request for voluntary action is for people to turn thermostats up to 78 degrees during those hours.

PG&E is positioning crews to respond to potential heat-related power outages in the coming days.

“Widespread heat events pose unique challenges to the state’s energy grid. In addition to the energy supply concerns driving Flex Alerts, sustained high temperatures have the potential to damage electrical equipment, leading to local outages,” the company stated in a Sunday news release.

“PG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is mobilizing the necessary personnel and materials to be able to restore power safely and efficiently.”

Temperatures in the Valley are expected to drop into the 90s by this coming weekend.

Next Saturday’s high in Fresno is forecast for 99. By Sunday, it falls to 93.

This story was originally published September 5, 2022 9:14 AM.

Will there be a Corn Nuts shortage? California workers on strike in Fresno say maybe

Finding Corn Nuts at your local convenience store might get harder as California Corn Nut factory workers strike.“No contract, no crunch,” workers from the Corn Nuts plant in south Fresno, represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 85, said on Thursday; the third day of a strike against Hormel Foods, owner of Corn Nuts.About 20 workers were gathered on Thursday and were greeted with sporadic honks of support from drivers entering and exiting the neighboring ...

Finding Corn Nuts at your local convenience store might get harder as California Corn Nut factory workers strike.

“No contract, no crunch,” workers from the Corn Nuts plant in south Fresno, represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 85, said on Thursday; the third day of a strike against Hormel Foods, owner of Corn Nuts.

About 20 workers were gathered on Thursday and were greeted with sporadic honks of support from drivers entering and exiting the neighboring Amazon delivery station.

According to a news release, the strike was launched on Tuesday because Hormel unilaterally increased employees’ health care costs without notifying workers of the change after purchasing the company from Kraft Hines in June 2021.

“We are on strike at Corn Nuts because the company is not bargaining in good faith,” Jerry Gil, financial secretary of BCTGM Local 85, said in a release.

About 40 workers, including the entire production team, are on strike, meaning that the plant will not produce any more product until an agreement is reached, the union said.

Since the strike is only in its first week, consumers are unlikely to notice an impact in the grocery aisle yet, union officials say.

However, that could change depending on the length of the strike since all of the Corn Nut production workers are on strike.

“The benefit of these employees right now is that this is the only facility that makes this product (for the Corn Nuts brand),” Alejandro Ahumada, a representative of Workers and Grain Millers International Union 10401, said Thursday.

“From that conversation I had with some of the production workers, they don’t believe they (the company) has that much stock for certain items,” he said. “So that the public may see the shelves empty out.”

In an email statement to The Bee on Thursday, Hormel Foods officials said they have been in negotiations with BCTGM local No. 85 since acquiring the facility. “We are disappointed that we have not yet reached an agreement, but negotiations will continue, and we are optimistic that we will reach an agreement in the near future.”

The company did not respond to a question about whether inventory would be impacted by the strike.

Fresno’s Corn Nuts workers are feeling the impact of changed company ownership first-hand, according to John Weidenbach, vice president of BCTGM local 85.

In June 2021, Kraft Heinz sold its nut business to Hormel Foods in a cash transaction worth $3.35 billion, according to Business Wire.

Hormel Foods purchase of Corn Nuts, Planters, NUT-rition, Cheez Balls, plus three production facilities is Hormel Foods largest acquisition in the company’s history, according to a company news release.

After that, Hormel “forced” workers into a medical plan with higher deductibles, premiums, and employee contributions, Weidenbach said. As a result, some workers are racking up thousands of dollars worth of out-of-pocket medical expenses, especially workers that are older and need more medical care.

“To do this to them in the middle of a pandemic of all things” has been especially hard on workers, who earn an estimated $40,000- $50,000 per year plus benefits, Weidenbach said, adding that the earnings are comparable to similar positions in the Central Valley.

Typically, the union has language in the contract to ensure the bargaining contract stays in place even during a change of ownership, Ahumada told The Bee. “Unfortunately, with this contract, the language was never put in place.”

“When they first made this purchase, they were making profits and that’s why they decided to purchase this facility,” said Ahumada. “And now they’re just trying to collect their investments faster by taking it from the membership and their employees.”

But the company spokesperson said they’re “working closely with union representatives on a new collective bargaining agreement that is consistent with our total rewards program, which includes competitive wages and benefits.”

Union officials said they’re prepared to support their members in the strike until a just contract agreement is reached.

This story was originally published August 19, 2022 5:00 AM.

Triple-digit weather to continue in Fresno. Here are heat-related symptoms to watch out for

This story was produced by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization that partners with The Fresno Bee.Fresno is facing a scorching heat wave, and daily highs on Wednesday and Saturday are forecast to reach 106 degrees.The National Weather Service issued an...

This story was produced by Fresnoland, a nonprofit news organization that partners with The Fresno Bee.

Fresno is facing a scorching heat wave, and daily highs on Wednesday and Saturday are forecast to reach 106 degrees.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Tuesday morning which is expected to shift to a heat advisory by 11 p.m. on Wednesday.

Local medical experts are warning that extended periods of daily high temperatures over 90 degrees, let alone over 100 degrees, can be dangerous and can make it difficult for a person to regulate their body temperature.

“The longer the heat wave goes on, or the longer the temperature remains high, each successive day that people are exposed to this, their defenses wane,” said Dr. Jesus Rodriguez, a family medicine specialist with Kaiser Permanente in Fresno.

Heatstroke, which is the most serious acute heat-related illness, can lead to death if not treated quickly, according to Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for Fresno County. Heatstroke can be caused by overheating as a result of prolonged exposure to heat or overexertion in high heat.

“(Heatstroke) usually means the person has unstable vital signs,” Vohra said. “They need to go to the ICU, and have critical care performed right away.”

Less-severe heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat cramps, can also lead to emergency room visits.

Here are symptoms to look out for according to the Centers for Disease Control:

Dr. Rodriguez said that people with disabilities or preexisting conditions, people who work outdoors, children and the elderly are at a higher risk of experiencing heat-related illnesses.

If you are experiencing mild symptoms, such as light headaches, mild dizziness, or tiredness, here are some tips from Rodriguez to cool yourself down:

Rodriguez stressed the importance of drinking water, adding that people who “start off the day a little dehydrated are already in danger.” People who live and work in air-conditioned areas should be drinking about 64 ounces of water per day, he said, while those who live and work in hot conditions should drink 8 to 12 ounces of water each hour they are in those conditions. People who are sweating profusely should also try to replace electrolytes.

Feeling confused, extremely dizzy, incoherent, disoriented or extremely nauseous, Rodriguez said, are signs to call 911.

“The more people know about these things, I think, the more people we can save,” he said.

Rodriguez said heat-related deaths are “totally preventable” if people know what to look out for, have access to cool or shady spaces, water and can take breaks if they are working outdoors.

“Sometimes it’s just a matter of having a fan and having enough water,” he added.

The city of Fresno has four cooling centers that operate on days when temperatures are forecast to reach 105 or above.

FAX buses will transport people along regularly scheduled bus routes to and from the cooling centers for free on days when the cooling centers are open. Pets on leash are allowed at the cooling centers.

Location of the cooling centers:

This summer, with funding from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, Fresnoland is taking a deeper dive into the toll heat takes on health. Stay tuned for more on how heat is impacting vulnerable communities and what can be done.

A day after Newsom signed California’s fast food law, opponents began trying to block it.

One day after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law that intended to increase wages for fast food workers, opponents began attempts to block it and let voters decide its fate in 2024.A request to overturn Assembly Bill 257 with a referendum was filed with California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office on Tuesday. It asks that the Jan. 1 effective date of the law be postponed and the measure placed on the November 2024 ballot if organizers collect enough signatures.The filing sent to Bonta’s office, ...

One day after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law that intended to increase wages for fast food workers, opponents began attempts to block it and let voters decide its fate in 2024.

A request to overturn Assembly Bill 257 with a referendum was filed with California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office on Tuesday. It asks that the Jan. 1 effective date of the law be postponed and the measure placed on the November 2024 ballot if organizers collect enough signatures.

The filing sent to Bonta’s office, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, showed California residents Steven McDermed and Amber Evans as the proponents for the referendum. They are represented by Nielsen Merksamer, a political law and lobbying firm in Sacramento. The firm did not respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, opponents announced the formation of a coalition, Protect Neighborhood Restaurants, co-chaired jointly by the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association. In a press release, the coalition took credit for filing the referendum.

“As a result of backroom politicking, Governor Newsom has signed a lie into law and maligned all of California’s quick service small businesses and local franchisees as bad employers,” the release said. “AB 257 never should have been introduced, it never should have passed, and it never should have been signed into law by the Governor.”

This effort to overturn the law follows Newsom’s Labor Day signing of the FAST Recovery Act. Fast food workers held demonstrations and walkouts to advocate for the measure over the summer.

“I’m proud to sign this legislation on Labor Day when we pay tribute to the workers who keep our state running as we build a stronger, more inclusive economy for all Californians,” said Newsom in a press release.

The new law would create a first-in-the-nation labor council to set wages and working standards for fast food workers. The 10-member council would consist of employers, employees and government officials.

The council’s regulations would apply to any chain restaurant with at least 100 locations in the United States. It could set minimum wages at $22 an hour for fast workers by next year.

Bonta’s office said it expects to issue a title and summary for the referendum by Sept. 16, which would be the start date for the collection of signatures. Opponents need to collect about 623,000 signatures — 5% of the total number of votes in the last gubernatorial election — for the measure to qualify for the ballot. They have untilApril 1 to submit the required signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

If the referendum qualifies, it could lead to a costly battle between organized labor and the fast food industry, with spending reaching hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bill’s author Chris Holden, D-Pasadena called it “unfortunate” that the fast food industry was rushing to “referendum rhetoric.”

“Rhetoric that costs millions and doesn’t deliver workplace solutions,” said Holden in a statement. “It is saddening that the industry is looking for a way out of providing a seat at the table amongst all stakeholders. It is high time that we build up and engage the workers who make the multi-billion fast food industry possible.”

AB 257 was propelled by labor organizations like Service Employees International Union who have worked for years to organize fast food restaurants, including leading campaigns to raise the state’s minimum wage.

SEIU president Mary Kay Henry and other advocates blasted the referendum and corporations in a press call Wednesday afternoon. She called the referendum a “thinly veiled attempt” to silence the state’s more than a half million fast food workers. Henry also said she did not expect the initiative to qualify, but advocates are “prepared for a fight.”

“In an act of extraordinary greed and cowardice, fast food corporations are looking to buy their way out of the law intended to lift pay for workers…This isn’t how companies act when they’re proud of their business model,” Henry said. “It’s how they act when they’re terrified of their own workers and the power of collective action.”

This story was originally published September 7, 2022 5:49 PM.

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