FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 3, 2014
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria [at] rocunited [dot] org
New Report: National Restaurant Association ‘Revolving Door’ Lobbyists Quadrupled Within Past Five Years
Analysis of Corporate Lobby’s Insider Influence Published Days Before Senate Minimum Wage Bill Vote
New York, NY — Today, new analysis from ROC United and Alliance for a Just Society reveals the degree of insider influence wielded by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and their Fortune 500 members. The NRA is one of Washington’s corporate lobbying powerhouses trying to block reforms that would help families across the US. Just a couple weeks ago, the New York Times broke the news that the NRA was the silent driver behind the conservative economists’ letter opposing the federal minimum wage increase.
“This research uncovers the ‘secret sauce’ behind the National Restaurant Association’s success in fighting minimum wage increases: a heaping helping of revolving door influence,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “The NRA and its Fortune 500 members have super-sized their insider influence with more than a hundred revolving door lobbyists pushing their agenda in Congress. How many do minimum wage workers have? It’s not exactly a fair fight.”
Key findings include:
- When the NRA more than doubled its registered lobbyist count from 15 in 2008 to 37 in 2013, all of the growth came from a steep increase in “revolving door” lobbyists— staff moving between Congressional Offices and lobbying firms–quadrupling from 6 in 2008 to 27 in 2013.
-The 27 in 2013 included nine who jumped from government jobs to lobbying gigs either the same or the following year, six former chiefs of staff for members of Congress, six former legislative directors, and various “senior advisor” roles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ revolving door database.
- The NRA spent nearly $4 million on lobbying and campaign donations in 2012 alone.
- From 1998 to 2013, corporate NRA members’ combined share of revolving door lobbyists among their overall registered lobbyist count grew from 50% to 72%.
- In addition to opposing minimum wage increases, they have lobbied against menu labeling initiatives and were successful in stripping states of their right to enact such laws, are pushing preemption of paid sick days, among other anti-worker reforms.
“The fact that the restaurant industry is both the fastest growing economic sector and the largest provider of the lowest paying jobs is a testament to their lobbying influence,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “No other industry gets away with essentially not paying their workers. Living off tips and public support programs are necessities of most restaurant jobs.”
This is the first analysis in a forthcoming series focusing on the National Restaurant Association’s lobbying influence.
Co-founded by labor rights leader 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 members across 26 cities in the US, winning 13 worker-led campaigns, totaling $7 million in stolen tips and wages.