Tell Darden to Take Low Wages Off the Menu
October 22, 2012 8:31 am
Darden Restaurant Group, the behemoth company that owns 2,000 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and other popular restaurants, has been one of the leading advocates of keeping the tipped minimum wage at it’s current $2.13. Though the company’s 2011 profits topped $500 million (with CEO pay at $8.5 million) many of their 180,000 employees make this absurdly low tipped minimum wage.
Darden, as an industry leader, has been innovative in cutting labor costs. They recently reduced labor costs from 33 to 31 percent and are currently testing methods of avoiding higher healthcare costs by keeping more of their employees part-time. Darden workers, in concert with the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), recently brought a series of class action lawsuits against the conglomerate, alleging widespread wage theft and discrimination.
Now, CREDO and ROC are calling on Darden to change their culture, and start paying employees at least $5.00 hourly. From the new petition:
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…
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…
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.
As efforts to raise the wage gain momentum on a local and a national level, the petition presents a reasonable ask to the profitable company. This is not a living wage campaign — rather an opportunity for Darden to voluntarily pay their workers a few dollars more. Per a recent settlement with Mario Batali’s Del Posto, ROC has demonstrated that it is tireless in achieving justice for workers, but willing to reconcile when an employer improves its practices (Del Posto is now included among ROC’s High Road partners).
Demand dignity for Darden workers today. Sign the petition here.
Image from here