Recently, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), along with Alliance for a Just Society, Family Values @ Work, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Good Jobs First, Movement Strategy Center, and Real Food Media Project, released a report denouncing the activities of the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
“This report is part of the campaign to fight back against the National Restaurant Association’s destructive lobbying agenda,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of ROC United, an organization fighting for the rights of restaurant workers.
The report provides a comprehensive examination of an association representing 500,000 businesses in the restaurant industry, seventeen of which are the biggest food corporations in the world including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Sodexo.
ROC United does not hesitate to call the Association “the Other NRA,” referring to the National Rifle Association famous for its influential lobbying activities in Washington.
According to the report, the NRA has consistently blocked minimum wages increases in the restaurant industry. Since 1991, the minimum wage has been US$2.13 per hour. In addition, McDonald’s and other members of the NRA are accused of “wage theft,” or practices that push workers to perform tasks beyond working hours or denying them allowed rest and meal breaks.
ROC United also found that taxpayers in the U.S. are subsidizing “nearly US$232 million in CEO compensation for the top 20 restaurant chains in the NRA” as a result of a tax loophole.
But ROC United provides a list of charges against the NRA that goes beyond profits from U.S. taxpayers and attacks on workers’ rights.
The report highlights that the NRA managed to oppose public health policy measures, such as nutritional menu labeling requirements, limitations on the marketing of junk food to children, and regulation of sodium, sugar, and trans-fats in processed foods. It has also lobbied to obstruct the advancement of women’s equality by opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.
Along with the report, ROC United issued the same day a full-page ad in the New York Times signed by leading food, environmental, women’s, and labor organizations, including Food Tank: The Food Think Tank, calling on members of Congress to stop accepting the NRA’s corporate cash.
“We want to see elected officials back off from accepting the NRA’s contributions. Their corporate cash does more than quash workers’ rights — their influence is detrimental to our environment, public health, animal welfare, and equality for women. For the first time, this report lays it all out, and we expect Congress to pay attention,” said Saru Jayaraman.