For Immediate Release: April 15, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720 352 6153

FOOTAGE AVAILABLE — Restaurant Workers and Living Wage Advocates Stand Up for Respect and Dignity, Disrupt National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference

On Tax Day, #StopTheOtherNRA Activists Block Four Intersections Delaying NRA’s Meetings with Policymakers, Demand Healthy and Just Restaurant and Food Industry

BROADCAST QUALITY B ROLL PACKAGE: https://www.hightail.com/download/bXBad0VJNHZlM1MwYjhUQw

Morning action (edited campaign video):

Full kick-off speech by Saru Jayaraman, co-founder/co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United: https://youtu.be/aB13fTpgHw0

Washington, D.C. — As millions of workers strike for a living wage today with the Fight for $15 movement, the #StopTheOtherNRA coalition was in D.C. to call attention to the National Restaurant Association, a the leading force in maintaining the restaurant industry’s poverty wages. With members including Fortune 500 restaurant corporations like McDonald’s and Olive Garden parent company Darden Restaurants Inc., it is one of the most powerful business lobbies in Congress and state legislatures.

160 activists convened in front of the Reagan International Trade Center to set up a pop-up restaurant blocking four intersections successfully stopping the NRA’s busses of lobbyists from arriving to the Capitol to meet with policymakers.

The #StopTheOtherNRA coalition is urging elected officials to stop accepting the lobby’s corporate cash, and instead support policies that ensure a healthy and just restaurant and food industry for all, specifically ‘One Fair Wage,’ a multi-state and national campaign led by Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United to raise the lower, tipped minimum wage to 100% of the regular minimum wage, effectively eliminating the two-tiered wage system.

The NRA’s legislative agenda centers on opposing minimum wage increases, paid sick days, nutritional menu labeling, regulation of sodium, trans fats, and sugars, and other policies. Taking cues from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the NRA has lobbied successfully to pass legislation that prevents localities from getting to vote on paid sick days, stripping states of their right to enact nutrition labeling requirements, and obstructs the advancement of women’s equality by opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.

A new report out yesterday shows that the low wages in the full-service restaurant industry costs taxpayers nearly $9.5 billion a year in taxes for public support programs, further demonstrating that National Restaurant Association’s lobbying agenda treats crucial public support programs as corporate subsidies.  With nearly 11 million workers, the restaurant industry is one of the fastest growing and largest industries in the country. However, nearly half of all restaurant workers live in or near poverty, and the majority of the country’s lowest paying jobs are restaurant jobs, including the absolute lowest wage: $2.13, the federal tipped minimum wage since 1991. As a result, servers use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the US workforce and are three-times as likely to live in poverty.

As a result of living off tips, women — who make up the majority of tipped workers — consistently endure sexual harassment on the job. A national survey shows that 90% of women tipped workers report experiencing sexual harassment, while the EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single-largest source of sexual harassment claims with a rate five-times higher than any other industry.

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Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News) ROC United has grown to over 13,000 worker-members across 26 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.