For Immediate Release
September 23, 2014

Contact: Maria Myotte, National Communications Coordinator
maria [at] rocunited [dot] org, 720.352.6153

“Dignity at Darden” Campaign Leaders Respond to Hedge Fund Starboard Value’s Meeting Proposal, Await Details

Darden Restaurants Inc. Still Silent on Mounting Employee Pressure and Employee Plans for Direct Action Ahead of Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in October

New York, NY — A representative from Starboard Value, an activist hedge fund seeking a full take-over of Darden Restaurants Inc.’s Board of Directors, emailed current Olive Garden employee and a “Dignity at Darden” leader, Steve Gazzo, offering to set up a meeting between Gazzo, a small number of “Dignity at Darden” leaders and Starboard’s leadership.

In his response to the Starboard representative last Friday, Gazzo, a ROC member who started the Darden: We Want a Seat at the Table petition (which currently has more than 7,000 signatures) said he and fellow “Dignity At Darden” leaders are interested in meeting and have requested the support of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United in coordinating details as the process moves forward.

Darden workers are currently awaiting a response from Starboard Value. No such offer to meet and hear employees’ concerns has been proffered by Darden Restaurants Inc. management.

Last week Darden employees announced, in response to Starboard’s 300 page “Future of Olive Garden” presentation that proposed franchising out the company, increasing part-time scheduling, and thousands of lay-offs, that they are ready to take direct action ahead of Darden’s annual shareholders’ meeting this October.

Starboard later issued a press release to shareholders in which they claim to “stand ready, willing, and able to work with Darden’s dedicated employees to create substantial value for the benefit of all shareholders.”

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

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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.