The National Restaurant Association said the nation’s restaurants pay their employees fair wages and welcome a fact-based conversation on wages.
“This is an industry of opportunity,” said Scott DeFife, the Association’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs. “Ninety percent of salaried restaurant employees started their careers as hourly employees. Eighty percent of owners and managers started in entry level positions as well.”
DeFife, along with NRA chair Phil Hickey and other association executives, addressed the issue as labor groups staged protests at quickservice restaurants Aug. 29 to pressure restaurant companies into paying them higher wages. The protesters are demanding $15 an hour – more than double the federal minimum wage.
“As we continue to recover from the toughest economic recession since the Great Depression, we should all focus on preparing Americans for high-growth positions and help businesses expand, not try to implement policies that would shutter businesses or eliminate jobs,” DeFife said.
“These protests are a coordinated campaign engineered by labor organizations and partisan groups to attack our industry and for their own political and financial gain,” he noted. “We are concerned that the protesters, most of whom are not employees walking off the job, are intimidating employees in stores who simply want to perform their job duties and go home to their families or friends.”
The reality of the situation, DeFife said, is that the restaurant industry not only provides fair wages for its employees, but also numerous opportunities for career growth to its more than 13 million employees.
DeFife said the restaurant industry and other service-related jobs often are portrayed as inferior or less valuable than others and that devaluing service-industry jobs only hurts business and future job creation.
“One of every three Americans gets his or her first job in the restaurant industry,” he said. “People learn a strong work ethic and invaluable skills that help them for a lifetime. They learn about personal responsibility, teamwork, discipline and accountability.
“Restaurants are the cornerstones of our communities,” DeFife said. “The jobs they provide often are the first step toward the restaurant industry’s employees achieving great business success.”
Pictured, top right: Scott DeFife