As the debate rages on about hourly minimum wage, protesters in favor of an increase are making their voices heard.
Labor and union activists protested the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) annual public affairs conference in Washington, D.C., on April 12. Activists released a report criticizing the restaurant industry’s lobbying efforts, saying the NRA buys influence to suppress minimum wage increases and food regulations.
"The National Restaurant Association exercises more influence on workers’ rights, environmental and public health policies than any other entity in Washington," said Sriram Madhusoodanan, director of the Value [the] Meal campaign at Corporate Accountability International, an advocacy group that sponsored the lobbying report. “It shields corporations like McDonald’s from public scrutiny while it peddles those corporations’ anti-worker, anti-public-health agenda on Capitol Hill.”
The push to a higher minimum wage has been discussed for years. President Barack Obama wanted to increase it to $10.10 in 2014, but the focus has now shifted to $15. The movement has gained some steam as California and New York recently passed $15 minimum wages. Despite the two state’s raising minimum wage, there hasn’t been much discussion on the federal level. And few expect the current rate of $7.25 an hour to go anywhere because of it being an election season.
Richard Berman, president of public affairs firm Berman and Company, told Nation’s Restaurant News
the wage increases in California and New York were anomalies and other state’s my not follow the same lead. He went on to say that the large increase will present an interesting scenario to the industry and economist.
“The only silver lining is that economists are going to be able to see what happens when you not only raise the minimum wage, but raise it dramatically and the difficulty restaurants experience when they’re forced to accommodate wage rates not accepted by the general public,” Berman said. “But that’s a thin silver lining.”