The parent company of some of America’s biggest fast food chains claims credit for convincing Congress to exclude a $ 15 minimum wage from recent COVID relief bill, company internal documents show reviewed by The daily poster. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm named after a character Ayn Rand, also says it is now working to thwart new union rights legislation.
The company’s bragging comes just months after a government report found that some of its channels were among the highest percentages of workers addicted to food stamps.
Inspire Brands – which owns Jimmy Johns, Arby’s, Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings, most recently acquired Dunkin ‘Donuts for $ 11.3 billion in November – on Thursday sent employees and franchisees a review of its government lobbying activity that has underlined his success in keeping the $ 15. minimum wage on the Democrats’ US bailout, the COVID-19 relief bill President Joe Biden signed earlier this month.
“We have been successful in our advocacy efforts to remove the wage hike law, which would have raised the federal minimum wage to $ 15 and eliminated tips,” the report read.
Below, the report notes the company’s ongoing lobbying campaign in the Senate against the PRO law, which was recently passed by the House and contains an exhaustive list of union goals, such as eliminating rights laws. at work and the ban on compulsory company-sponsored meetings. which aim to discourage union activity.
“Under this proposed rule, franchisors could be viewed as the direct employer of franchise owners in their system, as well as the restaurant workers these owners employ, which takes away the independence of small business owners.” , indicates the document.
“You get the impression that they are actively spitting in our eyes, saying, ‘Yes, we’ve been working to cut our employees’ salaries and we’re just going to blatantly tell you that,'” an Inspire employee said. Brands. The daily poster. “I really think a line has been crossed. You’re just going to brazenly say to your employees, ‘Not only have we been working to cut wages, but going forward, we’re also going to make sure the PRO law doesn’t. pass either. ”
Inspire Brands did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Government report on low pay sheds light on Inspire Brands companies
During the 2020 campaign, Democrats pledged to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, which would raise the wages of 32 million workers nationwide, according to a recent report by the Institute of economic policy (EPI).
However, efforts to include a minimum wage of $ 15 in Biden’s pandemic aid bill failed after the Senate MP told Democrats that such a hike should not be passed by budget reconciliation and that Vice President Kamala Harris refused to use her authority to overturn the decision.
Inspire Brands ‘success in removing the minimum wage hike from the bill follows Nigel Travis, then CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, claiming in 2015 that a salary of $ 15 would be “absolutely outrageous.” At the time, the unions noted that Travis was being paid over $ 4,000 an hour.
The defeat of the minimum wage also follows an October 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office that low-wage workers at Dunkin ‘Donuts, Arby’s and Sonic were among those who relied the most on food stamps in the states. where these franchises operate. In 2019, some Sonic employees quit their jobs in Ohio to protest low wages.
While paying many of its employees below $ 15, Inspire Brands franchises generate $ 26 billion in annual revenue and enrich senior executives. Jimmy John’s founder – who has been accused of shattering workers’ organizing campaigns – recently boasted on his website that he was named one of the richest men on the planet.
In the year before Inspire acquired the company, the CEO of Dunkin ‘Brands received millions of dollars, then millions more upon closing.
In documents filed by the government that year, Dunkin ‘Brands warned investors of the prospect of lower-paid workers being paid more.
“A significant number of foodservice employees of our franchisees are paid at rates related to the United States federal minimum wage and the applicable minimum wage in foreign jurisdictions, and past increases in the United States federal minimum wage and the minimum wage in foreign jurisdictions have increased labor costs, as the future of such increases, ”the company wrote. “Any increase in labor costs could result in franchisees in restaurant staff.
The company also boasted that “none of our employees are represented by a union and we believe that our relations with our employees are healthy”.
“Our name signifies our admiration for the qualities embodied by Howard Roark”
Inspire Brands is majority-owned by Roark Capital – a $ 23 billion private equity giant named after the egocentric protagonist of Ayn Rand’s novel The fountain head, which is considered a fundamental conservative text for the defense of billionaires and economic inequalities.
“Our name signifies our admiration for the qualities embodied by Howard Roark,” the firm says on its website. “We are committed to being a good partner in the good times, and an even better partner in the bad times. ”
Donors from companies linked to Roark made more than $ 800,000 in campaign contributions during the 2020 election cycle, mostly to Republicans, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.
Several state and local pension systems have invested public employee retirement savings in Roark funds involved in Inspire Brands ‘takeover of Dunkin’ Brands last year, including the Oregon State Treasury, the Maryland State Pension and Retirement System; and City of Los Angeles Employees. “Retirement system.
In its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Roark informed investors that “holding companies of the type referred to” by the company can “be adversely affected by changes in government policies,” including the minimum wage.