Restaurant Workers Escalate Fight for Fair Wages at Industry's Largest Trade Show, Demand Just and Healthy Restaurant Industry

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Anna Zuccaro, anna@fitzgibbonmedia.com, (914) 523-9145

ROC United

Restaurant Workers Escalate Fight for Fair Wages at Industry's Largest Trade Show, Demand Just and Healthy Restaurant Industry

One Month After Disrupting National Restaurant Association’s Annual Lobbying Day in D.C., #StopTheOtherNRA Activists Kick Off Week of Action with Rally for Fair Wages at NRA Trade Show

CHICAGO - On Monday, May 18th, #StopTheOtherNRA activists including 75 restaurant workers from Chicago and other major cities including Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and D.C. will rally for fair wages at the National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show, one of the nation's largest restaurant industry gatherings of the year.

Activists will demand the NRA adopt policies that advance respect and dignity for all employees, like ‘one fair wage,’ health care, and paid sick days. Find the full list of demands here.

With annual revenues of over $91 million, 750 staff, and nearly 40 congressional lobbyists, the NRA is one of the most powerful business lobbies in Congress, especially for Fortune 500 corporations including McDonald’s, YUM! Brands (the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), and Olive Garden parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., the largest full-service restaurant corporation and largest employer of tipped restaurant workers in the world.

The NRA is a leading force in blocking policies like minimum wage increases and paid sick days, keeping the federal tipped minimum wage frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991 and maintaining the unfair two-tiered wage system which forces tipped workers -- mostly women -- to live off tips.

Illinois, with a tipped minimum wage of $4.95 an hour, is one of 43 states with a two-tiered wage system.

What: Rally outside the National Restaurant Association trade show demanding a healthy and just restaurant industry

Where: McCormick Square at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Drive

Who: #StopTheOtherNRA activists, including current restaurant workers and community leaders

When: Monday, May 18th at 10:00 am

The Illinois Restaurant Association has been involved in advancing “preemptive” legislation that would ban voters in any municipality from raising the minimum wage or passing paid sick day requirements. Preemptive legislation strategies are tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), of which the NRA is a member.

  • Since 2010, the food and beverage industry has contributed $3,693,713 to influence candidates and committees in Illinois.

  • Since 2010, the restaurant industry has contributed $2,810,328 to influence candidates and committees in Illinois.

  • Over $500,000 of this is from the Illinois ($447,482) and National Restaurant Associations ($92,500). The IRA is the single largest contributor in the food and beverage industry. The second is James J. Liautaud of Jimmy John's Pizza ($335,700), and McDonald's is third.

  • McDonald's alone contributed $271,615.

  • Top full service chains Darden, OSI, Bloomin', and Buffalo Wild Wings contributed over $100,000.

Last month, nearly two-hundred #StopTheOtherNRA activists convened in D.C. on the National Restaurant Association’s annual lobbying day to call on elected officials stop taking the lobby’s corporate cash. By setting up a pop-up restaurant in front of their public affairs conference, four intersections were blocked, successfully delaying the NRA’s busses of lobbyists from arriving to the Capitol to meet with policymakers. Watch the action here.  

Monday’s #StopTheOTherNRA action on May 18th kicks off a week of action led by restaurant workers, including protests in the lead-up to McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Oakbrook, Illinois on Wednesday May 20th.

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