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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.
YUM! Brands is the largest fast-food operator in the world in terms of number of locations, with more than 40,000 outlets in approximately 125 countries. It is second to McDonald's in sales. The company's flagship chains include Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), with over 16,200 locations; Pizza Hut, with over 13,200 locations; and Taco Bell, with over 5,800 locations. It also operated the Long John Silver's seafood chain as well as several hundred A&W root beer and burger outlets, but sold them to two separate buyers in late 2011. Approximately 75 percent of the company's outlets are run by franchisees, affiliates, and licensed operators, according to Hoovers.
In the fiscal year ending in December 2014, total revenues were approximately $13.279 billion dollars ($11.32 billion in total sales and $1.96 billion in franchising and license fees and income), and the company had 537,000 employees (about 87 percent part-time).
- 1 Ties to ALEC
- 2 Labor Issues
- 3 Animal Welfare Issues
- 4 Menu Labeling
- 5 Packaging
- 6 Political Influence
- 7 Personnel
- 8 Contact
- 9 Articles and Resources
Ties to ALEC
YUM! Brands has been a corporate member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has been state corporate co-chair of Kentucky and member of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force. (See ALEC Exposed for more information.) In April 2012, YUM! Brands announced that it was pulling out of ALEC.
Matt Lathrop, YUM! Brands' director of government and community affairs, formerly co-chaired the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force. At ALEC's 2011 annual meeting, this subcommittee focused solely on the topic of "Paid Family Medical Leave." At the meeting, attendees were given model bills to override paid sick leave legislation in the states. Wisconsin's 2011 Senate Bill 23, which Republican governor Scott Walker used to overturn paid sick leave legislation in Milwaukee, was the basis for the model legislation.
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.
Membership in National Restaurant Association
YUM! Brands is a member of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), a restaurant industry trade group that has been a major opponent of campaigns for raising the minimum wage and expanding access to paid sick leave. The NRA has spent tens of millions on federal and state politics, and has ramped up its lobbying efforts since 2008. It has boasted about blocking minimum wage increases, and appears to play a role in maintaining a separate, sub-minimum-wage "tipped worker" tier even in states that have passed minimum wage increases.
While YUM! Brands ended its membership in ALEC in 2012, the NRA appears to still be an ALEC member. ALEC has been a key proponent of preemption laws that would prevent local governments from setting their own higher standards for wages and benefits.
The NRA is also part of a campaign attacking the National Labor Relations Board, which in 2014 ruled that McDonald's was a "joint employer" and could be held accountable for wage theft and other labor violations at its franchised stores. The campaign includes a website called "Defend Main Street" and a group called the Coalition to Save Small Business as well as "partners" like the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Job Creators Network.
YUM! Brands received a "restaurant neighbor award" from the NRA for its hunger relief program in 2012, but over half of restaurant workers are paid so little that they rely on at least one form of public assistance. (See Public Subsidies section below.)
Opposition to Paid Sick Leave, Despite Calling Flu Outbreak a Risk to Business
According to materials obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), paid sick leave was a key topic on the agenda of the 2011 ALEC annual meeting, when YUM! Brands was a prominent ALEC member.
"Paid family medical leave" was the only topic of discussion by the Labor and Business Regulation Subcommittee of the Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force at the 2011 annual meeting, for instance, according to minutes of the meeting. YUM! Brands co-chaired the subcommittee. Meeting attendees were given complete copies of Wisconsin's 2011 Senate Bill 23 (now Wisconsin Act 16) as a model for state override. They were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick leave policies prepared by ALEC member, the National Restaurant Association.
In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Restaurant Association lobbied for SB 23 to repeal the sick leave ordinance, as did the the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the local branch of the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an ALEC member.
Meanwhile, YUM! Brands states in its SEC filing that "[h]ealth concerns arising from outbreaks of viruses or other diseases may have an adverse effect on our business." The document specifically refers to avian flu and H1N1 and notes that some viruses "may be transmitted through human contact, and the risk of contracting viruses could cause employees or guests to avoid gathering in public places, which could adversely affect restaurant guest traffic or the ability to adequately staff restaurants. We could also be adversely affected if jurisdictions in which we have restaurants impose mandatory closures, seek voluntary closures or impose restrictions on operations of restaurants. Even if such measures are not implemented and a virus or other disease does not spread significantly, the perceived risk of infection or health risk may affect our business."
The World Health Organization has found that "gaps in paid sick leave result in severe impacts on public health and the economy as recent studies on H1N1 confirmed: In 2009, when the economic crisis and the H1N1 pandemic occurred simultaneously, an alarming number of employees without the possibility of taking paid sick leave days attended work while being sick. This allowed H1N1 to spread into the workplace causing infections of some 7 million co-workers in the USA alone." An estimated 12,469 deaths occurred in the United States in 2009 as a result of H1N1.
For more, see Paid Sick Leave.
Low-Wage Fast Food Work Dubbed "McJobs"
"There's good reason such service-sector positions are called 'McJobs'," wrote Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. His Los Angeles Times piece described California State Proposition 72 as "an initiative that would require large and medium-sized business owners to give health benefits to their workers. ... The fast-food industry is the nation's largest employer of minimum-wage labor. ... Led by McDonald's, the industry has pioneered a workforce that earns low wages, gets little training, receives few benefits and has one of the highest turnover rates of any trade."
Other opponents of Proposition 72 included Burger King, Wendy's, Walgreen, Best Buy, Target, Sears, YUM! Brands, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Restaurant Association. The state legislature had already passed a bill in 2003, signed into law by then-Governor Gray Davis, that required larger businesses to offer health care benefits. But fast-food companies, big box retail chains, and their allies spent millions of dollars to rescind the law through the initiative process. In their campaign to overturn the law, the same groups ran television ads relying on "scare tactics, distortions and ... fundamental misrepresentation(s) of Proposition 72," according to Schlosser. Proposition 72 failed.
Animal Welfare Issues
Animal Experts Quit Over KFC's Confidentiality Pact
In May of 2005, two animal welfare experts resigned from YUM! Brands after being asked to sign an agreement barring them from speaking publicly on such issues as animal slaughter. Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Ian Duncan stepped down from YUM! Brands' animal welfare committee after being sent an agreement requiring them to refer all media inquiries to KFC corporate headquarters:
"I resigned because there is a document that I can't sign. I feel very strongly that I can talk freely to the press about how the program's working, what's been going on with the program," Dr. Grandin told Reuters.
Dr. Grandin has also worked with McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King. She said that she respects confidentiality pertaining to suppliers and pricing information. However, no other company, including KFC, has ever required her to sign an agreement that barred her from speaking to the press:
- "Certain things are confidential ... I will not give out pricing information or information about who is supplying chicken where. That type of confidentiality agreement I sign all the time."
KFC spokeswoman Bonnie Warschauer responded, "It's just the same confidentiality agreement they've always had. We're just asking everybody to re-sign it."
She did not specify why committee members were being asked to re-sign the agreement. According to Ms. Warschauer, Dr. Grandin, Dr. Duncan, and another committee member had given KFC a list of recommendations the previous March and added that the company had a "plan of action." Both Dr. Grandin and Dr. Duncan had served on the committee for about three years. According to Dr. Duncan, "The way that I read it, it wouldn't allow me to talk in general terms about animal welfare.... If someone phoned me up and said, 'You are on the KFC animal welfare committee,' I was bound to say 'No comment."'
KFC has been criticized by animal advocates over welfare issues and inhumane slaughter of chickens. In 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video taken from inside a West Virginia chicken processing plant that supplies KFC. Workers were ripping off birds' beaks, spitting tobacco into their mouths and eyes, stomping and kicking them. According to Dr. Duncan, the company "has some way to go.... I've not been happy with the progress that's been made in setting standards."
Dr. Grandin agreed that KFC "needs to be strengthening some things.... Change happens slowly and they have been making some improvements."
PETA's "Kentucky Fried Cruelty" Campaign
In separate investigations in 2007, PETA documented Tyson Foods workers urinating in the "live hang" area and on the conveyor belt that carried birds to slaughter. Other alleged abuses included breaking legs and wings, throwing birds against shackles, breaking a chicken's back by beating it on a rail, stabbing birds in the neck, and shackling birds by the neck instead of the legs. The investigation also documented supervisors who were either directly involved with the alleged abuses or refused to enforce animal welfare policies. For example, a supervisor was recorded telling the investigator that ripping the heads off live birds was acceptable. Another allegedly refused to intervene after birds became trapped at the end of the conveyor belt and when birds were cut at the body (instead of the throat). Abuse was documented by PETA at both the Georgia and Tennessee plants.
Tyson is also a major supplier of other fast food chains, including McDonalds.
Tyson also has a history of human rights abuses, including safety violations, workplace fatalities, substandard wages, and benefits and harassment and physical assaults on striking workers. See Tyson Foods' employee and human rights issues and animals raised & hunted for food for more.
In October 2008, YUM! Brands announced that it would begin posting calorie information beside the product name and price on menu boards at its company-owned restaurants across the country by 2011. Exceptions include drive-thrus, where space is limited, and independently-owned franchise locations, although YUM! said they would be encouraged to follow suit. Senior Vice President Jonathan Blum said, "We're a leader. We hope all restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores follow our lead."
The action comes at a time when more states and cities are putting in place or are considering requirements for restaurant chains to post consumer nutritional information. McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's said they had no immediate plans to expand nutritional labeling to menu boards.
A 2010 report by Greenpeace found that KFC was using paper products made from Sinar Mas paper mills fed by illegal logging in Sumatra. Greenpeace has included YUM! Brands as a target in its campaign against deforestation in Indonesia.
YUM! Brands' PAC reported $129,050 in federal political contributions in the 2014 election, 91 percent to Republicans and 9 percent to Democrats.
Top candidate recipients included:
- Cantor, Eric (R-VA): $10,000
- Barr, Andy (R-KY): $6,600
- Guthrie, Brett (R-KY): $3,000
- Whitfield, Ed (R-KY): $3,000
- McConnell, Mitch (R-KY): $5,000
- Gardner, Cory (R-CO): $3,000
- Cornyn, John (R-TX): $2,500
- Scott, Tim (R-SC): $2,500
YUM! Brands spent $867,000 on lobbying in 2014, all on "Food and Beverage"-related issues. $230,000 of this total was spent through three lobbying firms: $150,000 to FTI Government Affairs, $60,000 to Washington Tax and Public Policy Group, and $20,000 to Fierce, Isakowitz, and Blalock (which also lobbies on behalf of the American Hotel and Lodging Association).
At the federal level, YUM! Brands' registered lobbyists in 2014 -- all of whom have "revolving door" ties as former government employees -- were:
- Mark W. Isakowitz
- John Cline
- Thomas Crawford
- Nelson Litterst
- Jefferies Murray
- D. Patrick Robertson
- Scott B. Styles
- Brian Diffell
- Jan Fowler
- Gregory Nickerson
- Paul E. Carothers
- D. Brett Hale
- Matt Lathrop
2014 Lobbying Issues
|Lobbying Firm||Amount Reported||Issue|
|Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock||$20,000||No issues reported|
|FTI Government Affairs||$150,000||Monitored potential changes to ACA. Monitor tax issues relating to fundamental tax reform, international and domestic taxes. CFC look-through. Restaurant depreciation. Charitable donation of food, Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act. Work Opportunity tax credit. Monitor developments related to Camp Tax Proposal. Department of Labor (DOL) rule-making on wage determination. Monitor reauthorization of MAP-21, Public Law 112-141.|
|Washington Tax & Public Policy Group||$40,000||Issues related to international tax and corporate tax reform (Expire Act. H.R. 4464. H.R. 5771)|
|YUM! Brands, Inc.||$867,000||Restaurant Nutrition Disclosure: P.L 111-148 Affordable Care Act; Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, H.R. 1249, S. 1756, International Tax Reform: Rep. Camp discussions draft, Senate Finance Committee international tax discussion draft
Fifteen Year Restaurant Depreciation, S. 749; Work Opportunity Tax Credit (no bill); Food Donation Tax Deduction, H.R. 2945, S. 1395, Health Care Reform Employer Mandate Requirements: P.L. 111-148 Affordable Care Act; Auto Enroll Repeal Act, H.R. 1254; Definition of Full-Time Employee: Save American Workers Act, H.R. 2575; Forty Hours is Full Time Act, H.R. 2988, S.1188, Dairy Supply Management: Agricultural Reform, Food & Jobs Act, S.10; Federal Agriculture Reform & Risk Management Act, H.R. 1947, H.R. 2642; Dairy Margin Insurance amendment, H. Amdt. 228, Minimum Wage: Fair Minimum Wage Act, H.R. 1010, S. 460, S. 1737, General issues related to trade liberalization regarding food and agriculture products (no bill); Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; Trans-Pacific Partnership; Korean treatment of franchised business operations (no bill), Renewable Fuel Standard for biodiesel (no bill), NLRB General Counsels joint employer advice
Public Subsidies and Tax Avoidance
A 2013 study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley found that "More than half (52 percent) of the families of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public programs, compared to 25 percent of the workforce as a whole," at a cost of "nearly $7 billion" per year. The report notes,
- "When employers pay poverty wages, workers must turn to public programs to meet their basic needs. Earned income tax credits, publicly subsidized health insurance, income support and food subsidies allow these working families to bridge the gap between their paychecks and subsistence. This is the public cost of low-wage jobs in America."
The National Employment Law Project estimated in 2013 that YUM! Brands' share of that cost is approximately $648 million per year, in effect a public subsidy for the company. That year, YUM! Brands had $1.59 billion in profits and spent $1.5 billion on dividends and stock buybacks.
Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Association lauded YUM! Brands in 2012 for collecting $85 million over four years for a U.N. hunger relief program and for donating $500 million in food. YUM! Brands also claims to have donated some $764 million in food to "those at risk of hunger in the U.S." over the two decades it has been operating its "Harvest" charity program. The company actively lobbies the federal government on the "Food Donation Tax Deduction" and "Charitable Donation of Food" (see Federal Lobbying above), and Jim Larson, who implemented the "Harvest" program for YUM!, has offered training for businesses in how to maximize usage of tax credits.
YUM! Brands is one of the 39% of Fortune 500 companies that paid zero or less in federal taxes for at least one year between 2008 and 2012. In 2009, YUM! made a profit of $288 million, but thanks to tax credits, tax breaks for stock options, and other maneuvers, the company had an effective tax rate of -23.7%. Over the five year period 2008-2012, YUM! had a profit of $1.8 billion and paid an effective tax rate averaging a mere 13.9%.
Local and State Subsidies
YUM! Brands companies also received at least $43,126 in direct subsidies from local and state governments between 2008 and 2012, including tax credits/rebates and low-cost loans. For example, six Taco Bell restaurants in Oregon received several thousand dollars each in "Business Energy Tax Credits" in 2008.
CEO Greg Creed
Greg Creed became YUM! Brands' Chief Executive Officer in January 2015, replacing David Novak. Creed was formerly the head of Taco Bell, which "became an industry leader under" his oversight, according to Bloomberg Business. Creed had also served as COO of YUM! Brands and headed "strategic development for Taco Bell International." Under Creed, YUM! Brands reportedly "plans to invest $10 billion in emerging markets and open more KFC restaurants in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria."
Board of Directors
As of February 2015: 
- David C. Novak - Director since 1997 | Executive Chairman, YUM! Brands, Inc.
- Sam Su - Director since 2008 | Vice Chairman, YUM! Brands, Inc. and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, YUM! Restaurants China
- Greg Creed - Director since 2014 | Chief Executive Officer, YUM! Brands, Inc.
- Michael J. Cavanagh - Director since 2012 | Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of The Carlyle Group
- David W. Dorman - Director since 2005 | Non-Executive Chairman, CVS Health Corporation
- Massimo Ferragamo - Director since 1997 | Chairman, Ferragamo USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia
- Mirian Graddick-Weir - Director since 2012 | Executive Vice President Human Resources, Merck & Co., Inc.
- Bonnie G. Hill - Director since 2003 | President, B. Hill Enterprises, LLC
- Jonathan S. Linen - Director since 2005 | Advisor to Chairman, American Express Company
- Thomas C. Nelson - Director since 2006 | Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, National Gypsum Company
- Thomas M. Ryan - Director since 2002 | Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Caremark Corporation
- Elaine B. Stock - Director since 2014 | Group President, Kimberly-Clark International
- Robert D. Walter - Director since 2008 | Founder and Retired Chairman/CEO, Cardinal Health, Inc.
Key Executives and Pay
As of December 2014:
- David C. Novak (58) - Executive Chairman - $3.6 million and $17.32 million in exercised options
- Greg Creed - CEO - $2.50 million and $13.12 million in exercised options
- Jing-Shyh Samuel Su (58) - Vice Chairman, Chairman of YUM! Restaurants China and Chief Exec. Officer of YUM! Restaurants China - $7.48 million and $9.42 million in exercised options
- Patrick J. Grismer (53) - Chief Financial Officer - $1.10 million and $1.54 million in exercised options
- Muktesh Pant (60) - CEO of KFC - $1.84 million and $629,000 in exercised options
1441 Gardiner Lane
Louisville, KY 40213
Web address: http://www.yum.com
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Berman & Co.
- Humane Movement
- Meat & Dairy industry
- National Restaurant Association
- Paid Sick Leave
- Processed food industry
- Tyson Foods
- War on Animals
- U.S. Government's War on Animals
Related PRWatch Articles
- Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari, The National Restaurant Association Spends Big to Keep Wages Low, PRWatch.org, May 14, 2014.
- Rebekah Wilce, Flu with that Burger? ALEC Wants Sick People Serving You Food, PRWatch.org, October 19, 2011.
- YUM! Brands Inc. Company Profile, Hoovers, accessed March 2015.
- YUM! Brands, "2014 10-K, SEC Filing, December 27, 2014.
- Mary Bottari, "Hang onto that Paycheck! ALEC 'Sharpens Focus on Jobs,'" PR Watch, April 12, 2012.
- Rebekah Wilce, "Flu with that Burger? ALEC Wants Sick People Serving You Food," PR Watch, October 19, 2011.
- Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari, "The National Restaurant Association Spends Big to Keep Wages Low," Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, May 14, 2014.
- Steven Rosenfeld, "The Other NRA: How the Insidiously Powerful Restaurant Lobby Makes Sure Fast-Food Workers Get Poverty Wages and Have to Work While Sick," Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, September 5, 2013.
- Jody Knauss, "Trade Groups Launch Campaign to Attack NLRB and Keep Wages Low," Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch, February 19, 2015.
- National Restaurant Association, "Industry Impact: YUM! Brands, Inc.," organizational website, accessed February 24, 2015.
- National Employment Law Project, "Super-Sizing Public Costs: How Low Wages at Top Fast-Food Chains Leave Taxpayers Footing the Bill," research report, October 2013.
- Xenia Scheil-Adlung and Lydia Sandner, "The case for paid sick leave," World Health Survey, 2010.
- Shrestha, S. S., Swerdlow, D. L. et. al, "Estimating the burden of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) in the United States (April 2009-April 2010)," Clinical Infectious Diseases, January 2011. Archived by National Institutes of Health, accessed February 26, 2015.
- Eric Schlosser, "Super-Sized Deception From Fast-Food Giants," Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2004.
- Nichola Groom, "Animal Experts Quit KFC Over Confidentiality Pact", Reuters, May 5, 2005, archived by CorpWatch.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Tyson Workers Torturing Birds, Urinating on Slaughter Line, organizational website, accessed January 2011.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Kentucky Fried Cruelty: Cruelty USA, organizational website, accessed January 2011.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Tyson Workers Torturing Birds, Urinating on Slaughter Line, organizational website, accessed January 2011.
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Tyson Workers Caught Torturing Birds, Urinating on Slaughter Line, organizational website, accessed February 2009.
- Steve Hannaford Oligopoly profile: Tyson Foods, Oligopoly Watch, updated September 2007.
- Bruce Horovitz Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut add new menu item: Calories, USA Today, October 2, 2008.
- Greenpeace, "How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet," organizational report, 2010.
- Rolf Sklar, Greenpeace, "Palm Oil Giant Announces Plan to Stop Forest Destruction," campaign news, February 9, 2011.
- Center for Responsive Politics, "YUM! Brands, political contributions summary, OpenSecrets Database, accessed February 25, 2015.
- Center for Responsive Politics, 2010 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets database, accessed January 2011.
- Center for Responsive Politics, YUM! Brands, corporate lobbying profile, Open Secrets database, accessed February 23, 2015.
- Center for Responsive Politics, YUM! Brands, lobbying profile, Open Secrets database, accessed February 24, 2015.
- National Employment Law Project, "Super-Sizing Public Costs - How Low Wages at Top Fast-Food Chains Leave Taxpayers Footing the Bill", October 2013
- Sylvia A. Allegretto, Marc Doussard, Dave Graham-Squire, Ken Jacobs, Dan Thompson and Jeremy Thompson, "Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast-Food Industry," research study, University of California-Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education, October 15, 2013. Accessed February 24, 2015.
- UM! Brands, "YUM! BRANDS, KFC, PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL LAUNCH WORLD HUNGER RELIEF EFFORT WITH GLOBAL SPOKESPERSON CHRISTINA AGUILERA IN NEW “PASS THE RED CUP” CHALLENGE," organizational press release, August 5, 2014. Accessed February 24, 2015.
- Environmental Protection Agency, "SMM Web Academy - Food Donation: A "How-To" for Food Retailers and the Food Service Industry," government website, accessed February 25, 2015.
- Robert S. McIntyre, Matthew Gardner, and Richard Phillips, "The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes: What Fortune 500 Firms Pay (or Don’t Pay) in the USA And What they Pay Abroad — 2008 to 2012," Citizens for Tax Justice and Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, report, February 2014. Accessed February 25, 2015.
- Good Jobs First, Yum Brands, profile, Corporate Subsidy Tracker, accessed February 24, 2015.
- Vanessa Wong, "Yum! Brands CEO-to-Be Greg Creed Will Confront Some Tough Challenges," Bloomberg Business, May 2, 2014.
- YUM! Brands, "Meet Greg Creed," organizational website, accessed February 25, 2015.
- YUM! Brands, Board, organizational web page, accessed February 23, 2015.
- Yahoo, YUM! Brands, financial profile, accessed February 25, 2015.