The Other NRA's Lobbyists Are Keeping Workers Poor
How the National Restaurant Association keeps wages down
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jan 3, 2014 12:48 PM CST
Protesters call for higher wages for fast food industry workers during a one day strike coinciding with strikes at other fast food restaurants across the country, Aug. 29, 2013, in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/John Amis)

(Newser) – The National Rifle Association has long been the biggest boogeyman on K Street. But there's another NRA that Michele Simon at al-Jazeera thinks deserves some scorn: The National Restaurant Association, which has conducted a "campaign of duplicitous lobbying and outright deception at the expense of the public interest." This NRA has managed to hold minimum wage growth to a glacial pace, particularly at the state level, where it defeated 27 out of 29 attempts to raise wages last year—and won concessions in the other two.

The result: A $15,000 annual salary for full-time minimum-wage workers. Here are the lines the lobbyists use to "defy both democracy and common decency":

  • "We represent mom-and-pops": The NRA endlessly touts individual restaurant owners, but its most influential members are the likes of McDonald's and Burger King.
  • Restaurants power the economy: Well sure... restaurants and the taxpayers who pick up the slack in providing assistance for their underpaid workers. A recent study found the 10 largest restaurant chains accounted for almost 60% of public costs related to low wages.
  • We can't afford higher wages: Except those same 10 chains saw a combined $7.44 billion in profits in 2012, and the McDonald's CEO makes $13.8 million a year.
For more, read the full source.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
The Other NRA's Lobbyists Are Keeping Workers Poor is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 74 comments
Jan 4, 2014 1:33 PM CST
There is a big difference between people who take big risks and come up with ideas having a much bigger slice of the pie than having the whole pie. Our distribution of wealth is so skewed that we have millions of American families living with food insecurity and without health care, despite the fact that they work 40 hours a day, and other who have thousands of times more money than they could ever use. Example: The Walton family has $150,000,000,000 in wealth. There are 1.4 million Walmart workers in the United States. Many had a very tough time finding food and presents for Christmas this year. If the Walton family gave every American employee a $250 gift card to help with presents and food for Christmas it would be $350 million, that's less than 1/4 of 1% of their money. In other words, they would improve the Christmas of 1.4 million people and still have 99.75% of their money left over. But instead in 2013 they've fired most of the greeters because they really need more than $150 billion.
Jan 3, 2014 11:20 PM CST
Since we lack a reasonable safety net, business owners are being asked to subsidize the worker by raising wages. This really is backwards because why should we penalize business owners because our government does such a bad job at providing a safety net? This means that we have a very inefficient and very much un-free market. Here is what we should do... Step 1: Liberals happy- Institute universal single payer health insurance and provide nutrition assistance for every person (including the rich). Food stamps are great for the economy (every food stamp dollar equals $1.80 back into the economy), they keep people from starving and food security is something that no one in their right mind should begrudge. People need healthcare and food above all and due to universal and relatively static demand, the government needs to make sure that 100% of people are nutrition and health secure. Nutrition means healthy foods! Stop letting people buy deserts, junk snacks and soda with food stamps. Just use cash for those luxury items. Step 2: Conservatives happy- Get rid of virtually all other social welfare programs including blank-check welfare, unemployment insurance, farm subsidies, and the minimum wage. Only keep the most basic housing assistance and public transportation and perhaps targeted subsidies/lowered interest rates for small business and student loans. Minimum wage is welfare but businesses have to give it away regardless of their ability to pay. Businesses hire when they need someone to work there and they should be able to pay whatever gets a qualified person in the door. This would eliminate fraud and abuse of government benefits because you can only get necessities with it. Food stamps are for food and everyone needs food, including the rich. Health insurance is for health. You could not be wasteful if you tried (unless you hurt yourself on purpose). Step 3: Enjoy bipartisan benefits- Better nutrition leads to better health which means big savings on health care. No minimum wage means tons of jobs are created. Although some jobs would pay less, everyone would have food and healthcare. This would put an end to union stalemates. I am a big union supporter but mainly because businesses are currently in charge of making sure people have healthcare and a living wage. If everyone got healthcare and food through the government, contract negotiations would focus on working conditions, which diffuses the two most contentious union issues completely. Businesses would be on a completely level playing field and true competition could ensue. As long as people are forced onto welfare through low wages, we don't have true competition. Taxation would also be greatly simplified since the size of government would shrink. Taxes may increase to pay for the health coverage but costs are guaranteed to drop due to better nutrition. You could pay for the whole thing twice if you got rid of most tax deductions. How about a single deduction for housing (individual mortgage deduction) and a single deduction for hiring someone (businesses get this one per employee). Done. Single payer would save tons of money over what we have now and the cuts to welfare programs would pay for the universal nutrition. Since fraud and abuse is virtually non-existent in universal programs, there is no incentive to cheat. Administrative costs are less because there is less of a need to keep track of who qualifies. Rich people could opt out of the food stamps if they want and the money would go right back into the program. Someone who cheats with food stamps might get a bag of rice but that would be all. Food vouchers do not change what people eat or how much they eat and if we did this plan, a health insurance voucher might work just as well. The government pays the cost of the least expensive plan available and people pay the difference. Vouchers would only work if these other reforms went along with it but any plan that provides universal coverage would be great. Unemployment would practically disappear, labor disputes would practically disappear, the economy would be supercharged and fair for all business owners. One other added benefit would be decreased lobbying of the government by special interests. It is fair because the government is only focusing on things that have universal demand. Supply and demand economics works for things with limited demand. Health, food, shelter, transportation, and education drive the economy because they drive individuals but they do not work well on the free market because demand never ever goes down no matter what. Even the staunchest conservative does not begrudge a poor person of these necessities. The only problem with this plan is that it makes too much sense and partisan tool bags wouldn't let it happen.
Jan 3, 2014 7:08 PM CST
If the National Restaurant Association is so positive people can live on minimum wage salaries, why don't they try it for one year, or even six months. No money other than what they earn at minimum wage. Every last one of them would be jumping ship after a few weeks, or probably days. They're nothing but uncaring, smug and arrogant rich people telling every body else to go to hell. Disgusting. BUT, what's even more disgusting is that the people we elect to represent us, end up being the puppets of big business and lobbyists. I hope everyone will remember that fact when they vote.