End Lobbyists’ Attack on Restaurant Workers

busy waiter

Target: Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association

Goal: Call on the organization to end its efforts to prevent minimum wage increases, access to healthcare for part-time workers and other essential protections

As food service workers around the United States rally for increased wages and worker protections one powerful lobbying group continues to thwart their progress: the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Many people are familiar with the National Rifle Association, also referred to as the NRA, and its feverish push to ensure any attempts at gun control fail to materialize. But fewer Americans are aware of the “other NRA” and its equally insidious efforts to keep wages and benefits low even as the industry enjoys its fifth consecutive year of record profits.

The NRA brands itself as promoting “entrepreneurship and hospitality” within the restaurant industry. “We empower all restaurant owners to achieve even more success than they thought possible,” claims the group’s website. But behind the scenes the NRA and its member companies have spent millions on campaigns to, among other things, keep the minimum wage at just $2.13 an hour since the 1990s. The group has worked at the state level to prevent bills that would have guaranteed paid sick time, and at the federal level to advance legislation that would free companies from the responsibility of providing health insurance for part-time workers.

Sales for America’s restaurant industry are forecast to skyrocket to $683 billion in 2014, yet the vast majority of food service workers are still low-wage. Many are parents themselves and must depend on taxpayer-subsidized assistance in order to survive. Demand an end to the NRA’s vicious attack on worker protections and wages.


Dear Ms. Sweeney,

Awareness is growing about the true scope and focus of the National Restaurant Association. While you may promote the group as being focused on “hospitality” and increasing the success of restaurant owners the reality is far less appealing. The NRA and its member companies have spent millions on local and federal campaigns to stall wages, prevent paid sick time, and limit access to health insurance for part time workers.

Rather than spending this money to increase the suffering of the employees your industry depends on you could spend it on improving their chances at success. Many restaurant executives were once poorly paid servers, cooks and dishwashers themselves but it would seem that once an NRA member ascends the corporate ladder they no longer feel any concern for the plight of those laboring beneath them.

That you would pride yourself on maintaining a federal tipped wage of just $2.13 for more than 20 years is appalling. That you would do so while helping restaurant executives exploit tax code to the tune of $200 million in deductible “performance pay” in the last two years alone is, quite frankly, unforgivable. The NRA must change its focus, and end this attack on the wages and rights of restaurant workers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Visitor7 via Wikimedia Commons

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