Panera Bread Exempt From $20 Per Hour CA Minimum Wage Law, Because Newsom Protects His Wealthy Buddies

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

In September 2023, California passed a $20 an-hour minimum wage increase, which had an immediate chilling effect over fast food and fast casual chain dining. Many of these restaurants upped their already increased prices; some fired staff — like Pizza Hut did with its delivery drivers — and moved to more self-serve and robot checkout. Some are even closing locations. 


Unless you're Panera Bread. In California, Greg Flynn owns multiple Panera Bread chains in the state. Flynn also happens to be a "friend" of California Governor Gavin Newsom. You do the math.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that exempts Panera Bread from a new $20-an-hour minimum wage hike for fast food chains after the billionaire owner of several of the chain’s locations donated to his campaign, according to a report.

In September, Newsom, a Democrat, signed into law a measure that raises the minimum wage of food fast workers from $16 an hour to $20 an hour.

But the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (FAST Act) includes an unusual carve-out that exempts “chains that bake bread and sell it as a standalone item,” according to Bloomberg News.

I can see it now: "Pizza Hut now serving freshly baked bread to go with your P'Zone!" "The 'Quarter Pound McSourdough' is the latest McDonalds offering!" Hey, if this is how the game is played...

Newsom reportedly sought the exemption, which benefits among others Greg Flynn, the billionaire CEO of Flynn Restaurant Group, the company that owns some two dozen Panera Bread locations in the state.

Flynn, who attended the same high school as Newsom, has been involved in business dealings with the California governor, according to Bloomberg News.

He has also contributed to Newsom’s political campaigns.

In 2014, Flynn, who is the largest franchisee in the US with thousands of brands including Applebee’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s, acquired a Napa Valley resort that was managed by Newsom’s hospitality firm, according to disclosure forms.

Flynn has a net worth valued at $1.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has donated at least $164,800 to Newsom’s campaigns.


This is nothing new for Newsom. Just like he kept the entire state locked down for almost two years between 2020-2021 and kept schools closed to please his biggest donors, the teachers' unions, so he is protecting his monied "friends" from the fallout of this punitive law.

The Post has sought comment from Flynn, Newsom, and Panera Bread.

Flynn told Bloomberg News that he played no role in crafting the bread exemption.

Sure, Jan. 

Newsom told reporters last month that the exemption was “part of the sausage-making” in politics.

Newsom referred to "the collective wisdom of the legislature..." in crafting this law. Let's look at how many of these wise people have received money from Flynn. In the 2017-2018 election cycle, there was San Francisco Democrat Assemblywoman Buffy "The Climber" Wicks, the egregious pro-pedophilia Democrat Senator Scott Weiner, and Democrat Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas. The bill's lead author, Democrat Assemblyman Chris Holden, did not appear to be part of Flynn's largesse, but then Holden is from Southern California and not part of the San Francisco Cabal who seem to benefit the most from donors like Flynn.

Even the bill’s lead author, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D.), claimed to be unsure about the exemption’s origins, with his chief of staff Willie Armstrong telling Bloomberg, "We don’t know how that came about." 

But like the good Democrat he is, Holden plays dumb. Also, notice that Newsom poo-pooed concerns about price increases after praising SEIU president Mary Kay Henry for her "next level" extortion on the "Fight for 15" campaign she mounted back in 2015. Governor Gaslight denies what even Stevie Wonder can see.


The wage law faced immediate backlash from fast-food chains operating in California. McDonald’s described the increase in minimum wage as a "devastating financial blow" that will cost each of its locations in the state an estimated $250,000 a year. Other chains such as Chipotle are reportedly eyeing a price increase to counter the rise in wage costs. 

Newsom's blatant disregard for the actual citizens of the state who will be affected by this continues to be on full display. Just like the French Laundry in 2020, and having his kids go to in-person learning when the rest of California kids were forced onto Zoom and locked away in their homes, Newsom is unapologetic about his obvious graft and favoritism. This is SOP for him — and most California Democrats. Lest we forget, when Newsom signed the anti-freelancer bill AB5 into law, it deliberately exempted plaintiffs' lawyers and medical doctors but did not exempt paralegals or nurse practitioners. The difference? The former, along with their large lobbying arms, gave major money to Gavin Newsom and other Democrat political campaigns; the latter could or did not. Pay-to-play is the name of the game. 

Then there is the example of Reed Hastings of Netflix, who in 2021 gave three million to Newsom for his Stop the Republican Recall campaign — and the entertainment industry received a sweetheart deal because of it. Flynn and his Flynn Properties gave $100,000 to Stop the Republican Recall and $64,800 in 2022 to Newsom's gubernatorial campaign. Flynn's contributions to Newsom go as far back as 2018, when Newsom mounted his first campaign for governor.


This is the shameful way that Newsom conducts business. But at least he is as consistent as he is corrupt.



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