Since our press release a year ago was never published in the Herald-Times or Indiana Daily Student, let me begin with this: in December 2011, South-Central Indiana Jobs with Justice chose Resilience Capital Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, as the winner of its 2011 “Scrooge of the Year” award. The firm’s effort to eliminate or water down seniority rights, grievance rights, and pensions at Indiana Limestone Company in Oolitic led to a strike, led by members of Millworkers Local 8093. The strike was eventually successful.
Fast forward. This past month, Darden Restaurant Group was our coalition’s choice for 2012 “Scrooge of the Year.” Darden, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is the world’s largest full-service restaurant group. It’s the parent company of the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse chains, among others.
In additional to credible claims of racial discrimination, Darden is the subject of a current U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit involving Darden employees nationwide who’ve complained of several types of wage theft. These include: workers forced to work overtime without compensation; workers forced to work through breaks and/or “off the clock”; tipped workers forced to do non-tipped work while still being paid the lower tipped wage (often as low as $2.13/hour); and tipped workers forced to share tips with non-tipped workers, so management can pay the latter lower-than-minimum wage. (For details, visit www.dignityatdarden.org.)
If you dine at a local restaurant operated by Darden (e.g. Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse), we suggest you send a letter to Darden CEO Clarence Otis, Jr. (PO Box 695011, Orlando, FL 32869-5011), copying the local restaurant manager, asking Darden to negotiate in good faith with representatives of the restaurant workers organization ROC-United.
--John Clower, Immediate Past Facilitator, South-Central Indiana Jobs with Justice