Olive Garden vs. the 99%

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"Stop exploiting your workers. Pay your tipped employees at least $5 per hour."
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CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Tell Darden to stop exploiting America's restaurant workers.

Dear Friend,

We all suffer when the workers who serve our food are living in poverty and unable to take a day off when sick. Yet that is exactly what is taking place in some of the most popular restaurants across America.

Darden Restaurant Group, which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and countless other chain restaurants, has about 180,000 employees working at its nearly 2,000 restaurants nationwide.1

And while the company's CEO makes $8.5 million each year, many of the company's employees are paid just $2.13 per hour, forcing them to live on the tips you voluntarily pay them at the end of your meal.2

Workers cannot sustain a safe, decent standard of living in our communities at $2.13 per hour. We stand up against this economic injustice today.

Tell Darden: Stop exploiting your workers. Pay your tipped employees at least $5 per hour. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Raising the tipped wage to at least $5 per hour will bring the rate up to 70 percent of the federal minimum wage and it will remedy an economic injustice that has persisted for decades. This is of particular importance for women workers, who make up a disproportionate percentage of not just the low-wage work force, but the tipped workforce as well.3

Darden has lobbied for years to ensure that the minimum wage for employees who regularly receive tips remains at $2.13 per hour, allowing the company to rake in massive profits while many of the people who serve our food struggle to make a living. Darden can certainly afford to pay its workers more. Last year, the company made over half a billion dollars in profits and their CEO pulled in an $8.5 million salary. To put that in perspective, Darden's CEO makes as much as 539 servers combined.4

Tell Darden: Stop exploiting your workers. Pay your tipped employees at least $5 per hour. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

While Darden prides itself as "great company — one that makes a positive difference in people's lives," the reality is very different.5 It has a long history of cutting costs at the expense of workers and even breaking the law. Recently, several groups of Darden workers have filed lawsuits and class actions with claims of wage theft. In 2011, Darden was forced to pay over $100,000 in back wages and fines by the Department of Labor for wage and hour violations, and it has settled numerous claims of wage theft, totaling nearly 14 million dollars.6

And paying its workers subminimum wages is just the tip of the iceberg. Darden has also been blasted for not allowing its workers to earn paid sick days and allegedly engaging in blatant race discrimination and segregation through multiple lawsuits.7

Our friends at Restaurant Opportunities Centers United have been organizing Darden workers to demand that the company treat them with dignity. We are joining their efforts today to turn up the pressure to urge Darden to end its exploitative employment practices.

Tell Darden: Stop exploiting your workers. Pay your tipped employees at least $5 per hour. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Darden's continued success depends on the reputation of its restaurant brands, so we know the company is susceptible to public pressure. And since it's the largest full service restaurant group in the country, a change in Darden's employee-compensation practices will set a powerful example for the rest of the food service industry and could help millions more American workers receive fair pay for their work.

Click below to automatically sign the petition:
http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=6976513&p=darden&id=49324-3362360-M_hzxwx&t=11

Thank you for taking action and demanding that Darden treat its workers with dignity.

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. Candice Choi and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Darden Restaurants Tests Hiring Of More Part-Time Employees To Avoid Obamacare Costs," Huffingtonpost.com, October 9, 2012.
2. Restaurant Opportunities Center United, "Darden's Decision: Which Future For Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Capital Grille," rocunited.org, October 1, 2012, p.4.
3. Restaurant Opportunities Center United, "Tipped Over the Edge — Gender Inequity in the Restaurant Industry," rocunited.org, February 13, 2012.
4. "Darden's Decision: Which Future For Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Capital Grille," p. 8.
5. Ibid at p. 3.
6. Ibid at p. 4.
7. Ibid.


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