DENNY'S CORPORATION | Increase Starting Wages at Denny's Corporation
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The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour and $2.13 an hour for tipped workers is a course of economic instability, sexual harassment, and racial inequity for millions of workers.1 The restaurant industry currently employs approximately 11.5 million workers.2 Substantial media attention has focused on the hiring crisis facing the restaurant industry. Latest turnover data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrated 1.6 million open jobs in leisure and hospitality and a record of nearly a million people quitting.4 Denny’s has been public about its hiring challenges.5, 6, 7 In May 2021, a One Fair Wage survey showed 53 percent of restaurant workers in the United States were considering leaving their jobs concerned about low wages and tips.8 75 percent of restaurant operators report that recruiting and retaining employees was their top challenge, the highest level recorded in two decades.9 Paying a full minimum wage has financial benefits: higher average profits, organizational growth and reduced turnover, and employment growth and lower poverty rates among workers. Economic analysis shows that onefair-wage states had stronger restaurant growth from 2011 to 2019 than states with a lower tipped minimum wage.10 Denny’s Chief Financial Officer told investors that the California law raising the minimum wage to $15, including for tipped workers, by 2024 has been good for the company’s business on a 2021 earnings call.11 One in six restaurant workers live below the poverty line. For tipped workers the poverty rate is 5.6 percentage points higher than for tipped workers in one-fair-wage states.12 The 2020 Government Accountability Office report found 72 percent of wage-earning adults participating in Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program worked in one of five industries, including food service.13 In 2021, in every region of the United States, a single adult without children needs at least $31,200 to achieve a modest but secure standard of living.14 According to Denny’s proxy statement in 2020, the median of the annual total compensation of all employees, other than the Chief Executive Officer, was $16,245. According to 2020 federal poverty threshold calculations, Denny’s median total compensation is below the poverty threshold for all sizes of family units, except for individuals.15 As shareholders, we are concerned that payment of a subminimum wage contributes to ongoing economic inequities and hinders hiring and retention efforts that in turn negatively impact long-term success and growth, creating reputational and financial risks.
That shareholders of Denny’s Corporation (Denny’s) request that the board of directors oversee the preparation of analysis, made publicly available, of the feasibility of increasing tipped workers’ starting wage to a full minimum wage, per state and federal levels, with tips on top to address worker retention issues and economic inequities.