National Restaurant Association
Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is the world’s largest foodservice trade association. With nearly 750 employees, the group represents 500,000 restaurant businesses. The NRA’s annual budget is around $30 million, and the group spends a little over $2 million every year on lobbying. In 2012-2013, NRA has worked with ALEC, major food service corporations, and PR firms to counter local campaigns to achieve paid sick days for workers and has backed bills to preempt paid sick days ordinances for low-income workers. (See below).
Budget and lobbying
According to the NRA’s 990 filing with the IRS, the organization generated $91.4 million in revenue and spent $26.3 million in 2011. According to Open Secrets, the NRA spent $2.7 million on lobbying in 2012 and $2.5 million on lobbying in 2011. Top issues for lobbying were taxes, labor and workplace, healthcare, and tourism.
Besides its in house experts, the NRA has also hired outside lobbyists in 2013, including Capitol Tax Partners, K&L Gates, Mehlman Vogel Castagnettie Inc., and Prime Policy Group.
Across all years in the database, Influence Explorer reports that the NRA has spent $14,476,504 on political campaigns, with 76% going to Republicans and 15% going to Democrats. Top recipients include Heather A. Wilson (R-NM), John Kline (R-NM), Anne M. Northrup (R-KY), and John Boehner (R-OH).
The majority of NRA PAC contributions (84%) go to federal entities. Top PAC recipients include: Coalition to Save Florida Jobs, Republican Party of Florida, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
The NRA is a member of ALEC. According to the NRA’s 990 filling with the IRS, they gave $7,000 to ALEC in 2011.
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.
Opposition to Paid Sick Days
In recent years, the NRA has fought hard against new laws and regulations on paid sick days policies, which would allow workers to stay at home when sick without risking their paycheck or their job. Forty percent of all workers do not have paid sick days; existing federal law covers only employees working 25 hours or more at businesses with at least 50 workers, applies only to serious and not routine illnesses, and is unpaid.
Bills to stop localities from allowing workers to earn paid sick days have been introduced in at least 14 different state legislatures across the country, a process coordinated in Washington, D.C. by the restaurant industry and ALEC. These bills are designed to preempt local governments or voters from enacting paid sick days ordinances.
The preemption concept was promulgated in August 2011 at an ALEC meeting in New Orleans. A member brought in a bill passed in Wisconsin that year thanks to a lobbying effort by the restaurant industry and the local Chamber; the bill overturned a Milwaukee paid sick days ordinance that had passed with nearly 70 percent of the vote in 2008.
At the ALEC meeting, the Wisconsin bill was the center of a special session where it was presented to other states’ legislators as a model. Legislators attending the meeting were also handed a target list and map of state and local paid sick days policies prepared by the National Restaurant Association (NRA). After that meeting, similar paid sick days preemption bills spread across the country, in most cases introduced and co-sponsored by ALEC member legislators.
Alabama: the Alabama Restaurant Association is pushing a preemption bill to stop local paid sick days ordinances.
Connecticut: the Connecticut Restaurant Association lobbied vigorously against a paid sick days law passed in 2011.
Florida: the preemption bill was written with the help of Darden, the parent company for Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
Indiana: the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association pushed to pass the preemption bill.
Kansas: the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association (KRHA) wrote a letter to governor asking him to support preemption bill.
Louisiana: the Louisiana Restaurant Association gave $2,750 to preemption bill sponsor. The LRA is a sponsor of ALEC and the LRA CEO spoke at the ALEC meeting in 2011 where a preemption model bill was distributed.
Mississippi: while there is no confirmed link to the restaurant industry, the bill’s sponsor on preemption, Representative Turner is a confirmed member of ALEC and has received campaign donations from ALEC.
Tennessee: Tennessee Hospitality Association worked to pass preemption bill. Sponsors of the bill received campaign donations from Tennessee Hospitality Association (log in required on TN web page).
Washington: the Washington Restaurant Association fought against the Seattle paid sick days ordinance.
Wisconsin: the Wisconsin Restaurant Association worked to help pass preemption bill against paid sick days.
Paid Sick Leave Preemption Bills and Sponsors, 2011-2013
|State (Year)||Bill(s)||ALEC Member Sponsors||Status|
|WI (2011)||AB 41/SB 23||Kapenga, Stone, Honadel; Vukmir, Grothman, Darling, Lazich||Enacted 2011|
|LA (2012)||SB 521||Enacted 2012|
|AL (2013)||HB 628||Died|
|AZ (2013)||HB 2280||Forese||Enacted 4/29/13|
|FL (2013)||HB 655/SB 726||Precourt, Mayfield; Simmons||Enacted 6/14/13|
|IN (2013)||SB 213||Enacted 4/25/13|
|KS (2013)||HB 2069||Commerce, Labor, Econ Development Committee Chair Marvin Kleeb||Enacted 4/16/13|
|MI (2013)||HB 4249/SB 173||Lori; M. Green, Meekhoff, Robertson, M. Kowall||Passed House & Senate committees, no floor votes yet|
|MS (2013)||HB 141||Turner||Enacted 3/25/13|
|OK (2013)||SB 1023||Died|
|SC (2013)||H 3941||Sandifer, Harrell, Bannister||Passed House 4/30/13, died|
|TN (2013)||HB 501/SB 35||Kelsey, White, Lynn||Enacted 4/16/13|
|WA (2013)||SB 5728||Padden, Bailey, Benton||Died|
|WA (2013)||HB 1781/SB 5726||Bailey, Padden, Benton||Reintroduced and retained in present status May 13|
|WA (2013)||SB 5159||Bailey, Padden; Becker, Carrell (deceased), Parlette, Holmquist||Reintroduced and retained in present status May 13|
Opposition to Nutrition Labeling
In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed regulations for national standards for nutrition labeling on menus. Restaurant food is often high saturated fats, trans fat, salt and calories. The National Restaurant Association has fought numerous efforts to introduce calorie and fat content labeling on restaurant menus, defeating thirteen nutrition-labeling bills introduced in eleven states and two cities (Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia). To help in this effort, the NRA offered an "Obesity Issue Kit" that included model legislation, op-ed articles, talking points and other resources designed to assist states in passing legislation and to shield the industry.
Public Relations: Rick Berman, and Employment Policies Institute
The NRA operates the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), which is set up as the association’s “educational arm.” In 2010, the NRA announced strategic partnership with Nation’s Restaurant News, the main source for business intelligence in the restaurant industry. The NRN regularly carries articles on industry efforts to turn back paid sick days requirements, minimum wage initiatives and legislation, healthcare reform, and employee organizing rights.
One of the main proponents for the NRA is the Employment Policies Institute. According to the National Journal, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) was started “by a group of restaurant companies” that at the time (1995) got “95% of its budget from corporate sources—primarily restaurateurs and retailers.” EPI operates from the same address (1090 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 800 Washington, D.C. 20005) as Berman and Company, the PR firm owned by Rick Berman.
- Dawn Sweeney - President and CEO, formerly President and CEO of AARP Services, the taxable subsidiary of the AARP. According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Ms. Sweeney $2.2 million in total compensation in 2011.
- Marvin Irby - CFO, formerly with Shawmut Design & Construction, Walt Disney Word, and PepsiCo. According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Mr. Irby $507,000 in total compensation, in 2011.
- Scott DeFife - Executive Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs, formerly Government Affairs for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), former staffer for Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Congresswoman Karen McCarthy (D-MO), and Congressman Mike Andrews.
- Sue Hensley - Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, formerly Chief Spokesperson of the Small Business Administration, Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, and Spokesperson to Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR). According to the NRA 990 filings with the IRS, the organization paid Ms. Hensley $337,360 in total compensation in 2011.
Worker Versus NRA Pay Gap
In 2012, the Economic Policy Institute released a report on the growing income inequality between company executives and their employees. From 1978 to 2011, worker annual compensation rose 5.7%. But the annual income of CEO’s over the same time period rose 726.7%.
According to estimates released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in early 2012, the annual wage for waiters was bartenders was $20,710 and $21,630. Top pay in the industry is earned by chefs at $46,570.
Comparing these salaries to annual compensation of the NRA CEO, Dawn Sweeney finds: NRA CEO-to-waiter compensation equals 106-to-1
NRA CEO-to-bartender compensation equals 102-to-1
NRA CEO-to-chef compensation equals 47-to-1.
History with Tobacco
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the tobacco industry often used groups such as the NRA to act as fronts for tobacco interests. For instance, in 2000, Philip Morris sent a letter to the NRA regarding a program to create ventilated interiors instead of smoke-free restaurants. The letter mentions a
$250,00 check from Philip Morris to the NRA.
A search of the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California-San Francisco finds over 6,000 documents that reference the NRA.
Herman Cain Controversies
From 1996-1999, the NRA was led by Herman Cain. When he ran for President in 2012, controversies swirled about his tenure at the association, including charges of sexual harassment and overspending. Mr. Cain alleged that the sexual harassment leaks were coming from an opponent in the race.
Former employees told Bloomberg News that Cain’s work-related outings involved heavy drinking, lavish spending and large expenses, angering some board members. The NRA released a statement confirming that they agreed to a settlement with one employee regarding allegations that Mr. Cain sexually harassed her.
Articles and Resources
- ↑ National Restaurant Association, "About Us", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org Client Profile: Summary, 2013: National Restaurant Assn, "Issues", accessed July 2013
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "National Restaurant Assn", InfluenceExplorer.com, accessed July 2013
- ↑ Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets.org Client Profile: Summary, 2013: National Restaurant Assn, "Lobbyists representing National Restaurant Assn", accessed July 2013
- ↑ Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, project of the Environmental Working Group, Information on American Legislative Exchange Council, archived organizational profile, archived by Wayback Machine December 2, 2000, accessed August 19, 2011
- ↑ Esmé E. Deprez, "Coughing Cooks Stay Home as U.S. Cities Require Paid Sick Leave", Bloomberg, March 21, 2013
- ↑ Alabama Retail Association,"Bill Bans Cities and Counties from Mandating Leave Time for Private Employees" Capitol Retail Report, April 19, 2013
- ↑ Howard Fischer, "Arizona bill would stop cities from imposing employee benefit laws on companies", East Valley Tribune, March 28, 2013
- ↑ Arizona State Senate, "Minutes of Committee on Commerce, Energy and Military", March 20, 2013.
- ↑ Christopher Keating, "Paid Sick Leave Approved 28 - 24; Battle Lines Drawn Over Controversial Issue; Now Headed To Senate For Close Vote", Courant.com Capitol Watch, May 9, 2011
- ↑ Ashley Lopez, "Florida Senate May Consider House’s More Restrictive Anti-Sick Pay Bill", Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, April 25, 2013
- ↑ Indiana Chamber, "Bill Protects Indiana Business from Local Government Interference", Legislative Report, February 22, 2013.
- ↑ Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association, letter to Governor Brownback, April 11, 2013.
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development Task Force Meeting Agenda, August 3, 2011, on file with CMD
- ↑ Michigan Restaurant Association"Michigan Restaurant Association Commends House Committee for Passing Preemption Legislation", press release, March 13, 2013
- ↑ Michigan State Senate, "Committee Meeting Minutes", Senate Committee on Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing, March 28, 2013.
- ↑ Mississippi Legislature, "House Bill No. 141 (As Passed the House", Regular Session 2013
- ↑ Project Vote Smart, "Representative Jerry R. Turner's Campaign Finances", accessed July 2013
- ↑ OpenStates.org, "SB 1023 Oklahoma Senate Bill: Employment; declaring preemption authority. Effective date. Emergency.", accessed July 2013.
- ↑ Project Vote Smart, "Senator Dan Newberry's Campaign Finances", accessed July 2013
- ↑ OpenStates.org, "H 3941 South Carolina House Bill: A Bill To Amend Section 6-1-130, Code Of Laws Of South Carolina, 1976, Relating To A Political Subdivision's Authority To Set A Minimum Wage, So As To Also Prohibit The Mandate of An Employee Benefit", accessed July 2013
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force Meeting Agenda, October 27, 2010
- ↑ American Legislative Exchange Council, Telecommunications and Information Technology Task Force Meeting Agenda, July 18, 2011
- ↑ Tennessee Hospitality Association, "TnHA News", March 20, 2013
- ↑ Brian M. Rosenthal, "Business groups take battle over Seattle sick-leave law to Olympia", The Seattle Times, February 18, 2013
- ↑ Wisconsin Restaurant Association, "Wisconsin Act 16 Sick Leave Mandate pre-emption bill signed into law", accessed July 2013
- ↑ National Restaurant Association, "Menu labeling - Overview", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 28.2 Michele Simon, Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, (paperback) (Nation Books, 2006)
- ↑ National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, "About Us", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ "National Restaurant Association And Nation's Restaurant News Announce Strategic Media Partnership", StarChefs.com, June 30, 2010
- ↑ Elissa Elan, "Paid sick leave takes center stage in NYC", Nation's Restaurant News, November 17, 2009
- ↑ Paul Frumkin, "Sick leave spreads", Nation's Restaurant News, October 10, 2011
- ↑ Richard Berman, “Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt Foodservice, Endanger Entry-Level Jobs”, Nation's Restaurant News, December 6, 2010
- ↑ Paul Frumkin, “Card-check bill spurs familiar fight”, Nation's Restaurant News, March 23, 2009
- ↑ Louis Jacobson, “Tanks on the Roll,” National Journal, July 8, 1995, p. 1767
- ↑ Employment Policies Institute, "Contact EPI", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ Berman and Company, "Contact Us", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ National Restaurant Assocation, "Dawn Sweeney", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ National Restaurant Assocation, "Senior Staff", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ "Marvin Irby", LinkedIn profile, accessed July 2013
- ↑ National Restaurant Assocation, "Scott DeFife", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ "Sue Hensely", LinkedIn profile, accessed July 2013
- ↑ Lawrence Mishel and Natalie Sabadish, "CEO pay and the top 1%", Economic Policy Institute, May 2, 2012
- ↑ Bureau of Labor Statistics, "May 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States", United STates Department of Labor, accessed July 2013
- ↑ J V Dearlove, S A Bialous, S A Glantz, "Tobacco industry manipulation of the hospitality industry to maintain smoking in public places", Tobacco Control 2002;11:94-104
- ↑ Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, "National Restaurant Assocation", organizational website, accessed July 2013
- ↑ University of California-San Francisco, "National Restaurant Association", Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, accessed July 2013
- ↑ 48.0 48.1 Dan Friedman, "Rangel, Engel Furlough Staff as Sequester Hits Hill", NY Daily News, June 18, 2013
- ↑ "Statement from National Restaurant Association on Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Accusations", Fox's News Insider, November 4, 2011