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The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Your dinner and the NRA

March 20, 2014

This past weekend, the New York Times revealed that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is behind a new statement slamming a proposed increase to the federal minimum wage. As a supporter of UUSC, you may already be aware that the National Restaurant Association pressures lawmakers to keep the regular and tipped minimum wages low. Tipped workers are paid as little as $2.13 per hour, in large part due to NRA lobbying. The NRA employs over 40 lobbyists and has a budget of $65 million.

Within the NRA, the Darden restaurant company is a big player. That’s why we started a petition to Darden this spring and are planning to deliver it to a Darden restaurant in Providence, R.I., in June. Between now and then, we want to get thousands of signatures on this statement asking Darden to support a minimum wage increase and paid sick time. So far, more than 3,500 people have signed our petition to Darden. Add your name today!

More information about the petition to Darden and our larger strategy:

Increasing the federal minimum wage has strong support from President Obama, from workers, and from the U.S. public as a whole. And support is building for increasing the tipped minimum wage too.

But there’s one group that isn’t speaking out strongly enough for workers’ rights: corporations. While we keep the pressure on Congress to pass legislation raising the wage in 2014, we also need to reach out to corporations that can make a positive impact.

In the restaurant industry, where many workers are paid as little as $2.13 per hour, companies like Darden Restaurants are among the big players.

Darden owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, the Capital Grille, and more. Most of us have a Darden restaurant in our community. They serve 425 million meals a year. Darden spent $2.73 million in the 2011–12 election cycle.

Darden calls themselves a family of restaurants. We want them to be a corporation that supports working families!

As consumers, community members, and workers, we need to share our values and concerns with Darden now. Sign our message to Darden asking them to support raising the minimum wage, including the wage for tipped restaurant workers.

We are gathering signatures on this petition throughout the spring, in preparation for an in-person delivery to Darden in Providence, R.I., in June. We’ve gotten more than 14,000 signatures on a moral statement aimed at influencing Congress; now we need to get thousands of signatures on a statement specifically to Darden to get their attention. We can do it!

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