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February 18, 2005

Steakhouse Loses Money Fighting Minimum Wage

The business lobby always says the minimum wage hurts its bottom-line, and Outback Steakhouse set out to prove this maxim by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against benefits for low-income workers.

And now it's had to admit to Wall Street that 2004 annual earnings were lower than comparable periods a year earlier, at least partly because the corporation spent $870,000 fighting a minimum wage increase in Florida and health care benefits for low-wage workers in California. Lawsuits also cost the company $1 million in legal fees.

Outback is one of the most aggressive companies spending its profits to attack any law to help low income workers. The company and its executives are also big-time donors to rightwing politicians across the country. Maybe we all can add to its profit woes by avoiding any of the restaurants owned by the company, including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Cheeseburger in Paradise, Paul Lee's Chinese Kitchen, and Lee Roy Selmon's.

Update: I came across this fascinating article about Outback's political operations: "what sets Outback apart from the typical corporate player is its battle-ready militia at the local level" and their focus on mobilizing local managers, who are paid a percentage of profits rather than a straight salary. This is the new frontier of business intervention in politics-- the chain restaurant as ward heeler among its 1100 restaurants spread across the country.

Posted by Nathan at February 18, 2005 07:16 AM