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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Follow the Money: Emeryville Minimum Wage Debate Draws Sacramento Lobbying Group

Out-Of-Town Business Interests Clandestinely Move into Emeryville: Minimum Wage Targeted 

Powerful Restaurant Lobbying Association Money Dump

Behind the Scenes Interests Work to Nix Local Control 

A powerful and deep pocketed lobbying group, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and its subsidiary the California Restaurant Association (CRA) have clandestinely moved into our town, operating in the shadows, spending money and working to effect the outcome of the minimum wage policy now being publicly debated at City Hall the Tattler has learned.

A group comprised of Emeryville businesses funded by these out-of-town lobbying groups has formed to fight the minimum wage proposal, agitating to petition the City Council for a moratorium on implementing any proposal and demanding the Council pay for a study, ostensibly to find out more about the effects increasing the minimum wage would have on businesses.  The group calling itself the Emeryville Small Business and Resident Alliance (strangely no mention of the big business connection in the title) will not reveal how they are funded but it has been learned the California Restaurant Association is providing money to the group as well as strategy expertise, work self described as directly in the CRA wheelhouse.

Bruce Dean
Chief Operating Officer Black Bear Diner
and Chairman of the Board of Directors of
the California Restaurant Association.

Money is pouring into Emeryville.
He wants to influence our town's policy.
Public Fight, Hidden Money
A restaurant on Christie Avenue, the Black Bear Diner, has served as the point business in town fighting the minimum wage ordinance.  They have secured a conference room for meetings at the Four Points Sheridan Hotel and sent expensive flyers to virtually every business in town requesting their presence at the strategy meetings.
Emeryville's Black Bear Diner is one of 64 corporate and franchise owned locations and corporate Chief Operating Officer,  Bruce Dean is also the Chairman of the Board of the California Restaurant Association, the source of the Emeryville business group's clandestine money.

The NRA & CRA work to protect the interests of restaurants at the expense of their workers, providing lobbying efforts to quash minimum wage laws and other worker protections.  The lobby group's Political Action Committees provides money for political battles like Emeryville's minimum wage ordinance.  As a service to members, they also lobby for pro-restaurant regulation, commonly at the expense of workers as well.  In other states, the NRA (sometimes called the other NRA) has lobbied extensively to keep restaurant workers pay at $2.13 per hour.
In Emeryville, the minimum wage debate has caught the attention of the CRA and they have joined the fight.  With the Chairman of the Board's Black Bear Diner connection, Emeryville has been on the CRA's radar since at least last year.

The Tattler has previously reported on the CRA working to kill our minimum wage ordinance by actively lobbying our City Council members HERE and HERE.

Even though these powerful special interest groups and their cash have heretofore been hidden from the public in Emeryville, look to the Tattler to report on how they use their influence to craft public policy in our town to their liking.

Check out one of the flyers (below) paid for by the Sacramento lobbying group CRA sent out to Emeryville businesses (and the School District inadvertently) in early April.  It's filled with hyperbole like we heard from opponents of the last  Emeryville minimum wage increase aka Measure C 'the living wage for hotel workers'..."Emeryville's hospitality industry will be kaput"!

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