April 26, 2021

Release: New Report Exposes Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s Extensive Anti-American Lobby Campaign

The MRA Has Spent More Than a Quarter of Its Lobbying Budget Opposing Nearly Every Bill That Would Advance Workers’ Rights, Including Eliminating Subminimum Wages and Giving Workers Emergency Paid Sick Leave

MASSACHUSETTS — Today, in partnership with Corporate Accountability, One Fair Wage released a new report detailing the Massachusetts Restaurant Association’s efforts to, as part of the National Restaurant Association’s agenda, derail legislation that would end the subminimum wage for tipped restaurant workers and phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers nationwide, with tops on top.

Specifically, the report, titled “MINIMIZING WAGES & WORKER HEALTH: How the “Other NRA” Continues to Stymie Critical Progress in Massachusetts,” found that:

  • Over the last two and a half years, the MRA has been a principal, if not the principal, opponent of new workers’ rights policy, spending more than a quarter of its lobbying budget opposing nearly every bill that could have advanced workers’ rights, including legislation to eliminate subminimum wages and to guarantee emergency paid sick time [e.g., H.1617 and S.2701].
  • The MRA’s primary lobbyists aren’t just working the statehouse halls to get votes, but also making well-placed campaign contributions to influential politicians like former House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who served as the speaker of the house from 2009 to 2020.

These findings, and those detailed across the report, paint a picture not only of how fast food and fast casual chains are stalling public policy at the public’s expense, but also how restaurant and food service industry workers, and a concerned public, can fight back.


“This report lays bare that Big Food and Beverage, not small businesses, are pulling the strings at the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. The MRA has lobbied extensively against the safety, health, and well-being of restaurant workers to protect the profits of its corporate members,” says Ashka Naik, research director at Corporate Accountability. “It’s high time for elected officials to stop bending to the wishes of the MRA and such industry-backed lobbying groups, and instead hold the industry liable for the harm it continues to cause its workers, a majority of whom are Black and Brown people and women. This is even more critical during the COVID-19 crisis.

Major corporate members of the National Restaurant Association may be acting against the best interests of shareholders by lobbying against the Raise the Wage Act, which would end the $2.13 federal subminimum wage. Earlier this month, groundbreaking reporting by The Daily Poster exposed that major executives at Denny’s, McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, and the Cheesecake Factory have told their investors that they will not be significantly harmed by a higher minimum wage — and that higher wages may, in fact, be good for business. Reporting that, “…on the contrary, Denny’s chief financial officer, Robert Verostek, said in a February earnings call that California’s law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has been good for the diner chain’s business.

Bob Luz, MRA President and CEO, was just named to the NRA board in February 2021.

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