• Press

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2014

Contact: Maria Myotte, National Communications Coordinator
maria [at] rocunited [dot] org, (720) 352-6153

With Thousands of Their Jobs on the Line, Olive Garden and Darden Workers Prepare to Take Direct Action in New York City Before Darden’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in October

Nearly 7,000 Petition Signers Demand To Meet with Leadership of Predatory Hedge Fund, Starboard Value, as it Calls for Massive Lay-offs, Franchising at Olive Garden – Flagship Brand of World’s Largest Full-Service Restaurant Company

New York, NY — Despite swiftly generating thousands of signatures from Darden employees, Starboard Value and Darden Restaurants have continued to ignore the requests of a petition, started by a current Olive Garden employee, asking to meet with leadership from both the hedge-fund and restaurant company.

Starboard, continuing to increase its control over Darden, just released a 300 page presentation on the future of Olive Garden, franchising out the company, increasing part-time scheduling, thousands of lay-offs, and scaling back the restaurant’s staple “unlimited breadsticks” are among Starboard’s proposals.

“If we continue to be ignored, we will make our voices heard with Starboard, Darden and the other shareholders. We’re people, we aren’t assets to be sold off,” said Steve Gazzo, a 15-year industry professional who has been employed by Olive Garden for the past six years. “Everything Starboard Value has done so far falls right in line with their history of destroying companies and jobs. I started this petition because I’ve worked at Olive Garden for six years, I know I’m one of thousands of employees who want the company to succeed. We’re with the customers every day, we’re the face of the restaurant, we believe we have genuinely helpful insights on how to make the company better, but apparently it’s company policy to ignore us. ”

The petition also calls attention to problematic labor practices, including the company’s elimination of auto-gratuities on large parties, unpredictable scheduling, and wages unable to sustain a family.

Darden Restaurants’ Inc employs more than 130,000 people across the U.S. The company’s annual shareholders’ meeting is confirmed to take place on October 10th in Orlando, Florida.

Steve Gazzo and fellow Darden employees are planning direct actions in New York City before the shareholders’ meeting .

Find the petition, Darden: We Want a Seat at the Table here: https://www.coworker.org/petitions/darden-we-want-a-seat-at-the-table

###

Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate, Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News), ROC United has grown to over 13,000 members across 26 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.