Susan Bushnell was in a hurry when a man, clipboard in hand, approached her outside a Walmart Supercenter in Vista, Calif., one afternoon last September.
The man asked Bushnell to sign a petition as she wrangled her fussing 5-year-old daughter into a shopping cart. He said the petition would help to raise wages for fast-food workers in California.
“Oh, that’s a good cause,”Bushnell remembers thinking, having once worked in retail. Bushnell paused her rush into the San Diego County store to jot down her signature.
But what the man told Bushnell was false. The petition was part of an effort to kill a newly approved law that could bring significant wage increases for California’s fast-food workers.
That law, known as Assembly Bill 257, or the FAST Recovery Act, was set to go into effect Jan. 1 but is now on hold. State election officials said last week that a coalition of fast-food corporations and industry trade groups, which raised millions to oppose the law, secured enough valid signatures to block implementation of AB 257 until California voters decide next year whether to repeal the law.
Bushnell is among 14 voters interviewed by The Times who say petition circulators for the ballot measure to overturn AB 257 lied to them about what they were signing. Others said the signature gatherers made vague and misleading claims — a Hollywood canvasser, for instance, presented the petition as an inflation cure — or tried to hide legally required paperwork explaining the proposed referendum, sometimes becoming abusive when questioned.