This report was written by Julia Rock.
Denny’s shareholders demanded on Tuesday that the restaurant chain end its membership in the National Restaurant Association (NRA), halt all lobbying efforts against legislation to eliminate a subminimum wage for tipped workers, and start paying all its workers at least a full minimum wage.
In a letter sent to Denny’s CEO John Miller, shareholders wrote that the NRA’s lobbying campaign against legislation to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers runs contrary to the interests of the company’s investors, citing The Daily Poster’s reporting in Newsweek. In 2019, McDonalds told the NRA it would no longer participate in any of its campaigns against minimum wage hikes.
As we reported, Denny's chief financial officer Robert Verostek told company shareholders in February that a California law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 for all workers has been good for the chain's business.
“As they've increased their minimum wage kind of in a tempered pace over that time frame, if you look at that time frame from us, California has outperformed the system,” Verostek said during a company earnings call. "Over that time frame, they had six consecutive years of positive guest traffic — not just positive sales, but positive guest traffic — as the minimum wage was going up."
A day before that earnings call, the NRA sent a letter to congressional leaders arguing that the federal Raise the Wage Act — which would raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers — is “the wrong bill at the wrong time for our nation's restaurants.” The letter added: “The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from a fast-tracked wage increase and elimination of the tip credit.”
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, while the subminimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13. Democrats considered including the Raise the Wage Act in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March. While Democrats axed their minimum wage hike, the final legislation created a $28.6 billion grant fund specifically for restaurants designed to cover their entire pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per company and $5 million per physical location.