Thursday, September 20, 2012

Workers grill Darden's CEO at shareholders meeting

One of my favorite journalists writes for the Orlando Sentinel.  She recently covered the Darden shareholders meeting.

Workers grill Darden's CEO at shareholders meeting

By Sandra Pedicini, Orlando Sentinel
The Orlando shareholder's meeting of Darden Restaurants turned confrontational Tuesday when several workers and activists brought complaints directly to Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis.

Former and current employees attended the gathering with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an advocacy group that has sued Darden's Capital Grille over allegations it underpaid and discriminated against workers. Darden has said the suit is baseless.
The complaints, which included lack of paid sick time and changes in compensation, came during a question and answer session after Otis touted Darden as a great place to work. Darden, he said, has "an extraordinary record when it comes to employees and employee engagement."

John Cronan, an organizer with Restaurant Opportunities Centers, said he was a former Capital Grille waiter often waited on customers while ill. "I couldn't afford to take a day off even if I was sick," he said.

Otis told him, "As a former worker, you know that we have very strict and aggressive rules to encourage people not to come to work when they're ill, so I'm glad you're a former employee and not a current employee."

One worker pressed Otis to meet with him and others. Otis resisted, saying Darden has other channels for employees to voice complaints.

"We have 2,000 employees here in this [Orlando] metro area," he said after one speaker urged him to listen to the workers at the meeting. "So we have plenty of listening just here."

Darden also meets with employees in other parts of the country, he added.
Other shareholders echoed their concerns. One wondered if Darden could be losing some of its better servers because of policies such as one implemented last year that slashed bartenders' and busboys' hourly pay and required servers to share tips with them.

Click through to read the full article.

 Is Red Dumpster/Darden losing their best servers due to their policies?  Absofuckinglutely.  Unquestionably so.  But unfortunately many people feel stuck in this abusive relationship and don't see a way out.  Like many women who don't leave their abuser, many servers stick it out with Darden because where they live and work there are few other options - be it for schedule issues, lack of employment opportunities, or many of a myriad of other things that keeps people there when they really should leave.

My encouragement to all of you still in the trenches is to keep the pressure on Darden, both locally and corporately.

In the mean time, if you have Darden stock, I'd consider moving it sooner than later.

1 comment:

Moose said...

In the 1990s the big management fad was things like TQM: Total Quality Management. TQM started at Xerox, and one of its most critical parts was the idea of open-door management -- that any peon could talk to anyone in the company, all the way up the corporate ladder. You might have to make an appointment, but, Xerox claimed, any one in the company could talk with even the CEO.

The University where I worked with got a new President, and the first thing he did was demand that the University start using TQM. He blew piles of money on having Xerox TQM people train University people to do the training.

Most departments saw it for what it was, a nonsensical fad. But the head of my department was still new and wanted to ingratiate himself with the Big Boss, so he took it to heart.

And laughed.

Because, he said, he'd always had an open door policy. He pointed out that most of the things in TQM were things that any good manager did anyway. And he was true to it, anyone in our department could make an appointment and talk to him about absolutely anything. It was terrific. He used TQM to make some sweeping changes in the department, most of which were excellent [like having workers evaluate their bosses and have the review go to *their* bosses heads, which resulted in some very abusive managers being demoted or terminated].

Anyway. My point of this long tale is that there was a serious weather problem one day which closed down the city. The office of the University President sent email to all employees saying that the U had to stay open, so if they didn't come in it came out of their leave time! People were incensed. And when some of them tried to make appointments with the President to talk to him about it, he refused, saying, "you can talk to your managers, that's the way reporting complaints is supposed to go."

The moral of the story is: Bad management shows itself. The guy was fired within a year.