The fast food industry suffered some terrible PR a few weeks ago when an infographic revealed that a majority of employees at big chains qualify for federal benefits; the headlines read that American taxpayers essentially subsidize these companies’ ability to pay their workers low wages. It’s not a new theme, but it bolstered arguments that Walmart greeters and McD’s managers alike should not be prohibited from unionizing and lobbying for higher pay.
As the story grew, one name popped up over and over again as a contrary source speaking out against any related minimum wage increases: the Employment Policies Institute.
The problem, as revealed by the Center for Media and Democracy‘s PRWatch: EPI is another name for Berman and Co., a PR/lobbying firm created by former restaurant industry executive and labor attorney Rick Berman. He’s also responsible for the American Beverage Institute, a “think tank” fighting smoking bans and efforts to lower blood-alcohol limits used in DUI charges, as well as HumaneWatch.org, a site focused on countering the Humane Society of the United States‘ push for stricter regulations on animal testing.
There are more. Berman is essentially public enemy #1 to anyone who supports government-funded public health initiatives, and he doesn’t seem to mind.