UnderCover Waitress: Darden Cutting Health Care Costs By Limiting Employee Access

Monday, October 8, 2012

Darden Cutting Health Care Costs By Limiting Employee Access

Thanks to all of you who responded to Sandra Pedicini's request for information. Pedicini, an Orlando Sentinel journalist who covers Darden Restaurants, published "Darden tests limiting worker hours as health-care changes loom" on Sunday the 7th. Please know that she is still interested in conversing with Darden workers if they are so inclined.

My take on her article, which I encourage you to read, is that Darden is planning ahead in the event that flip-flopping Mittens is sent home in November to one of his many mansions. The remainder of provisions in the Affordable Care Act will be enforced in 2014, and they include rules and regulations requiring employers to offer health insurance to full time employees. Darden's response to this is to not offer full time employment to employees, hence the cut in hours those who still work for Darden are being subjected to.

As I wrote earlier, the Financial Times has warned against big companies such as Darden and Sears offering vouchers to employees to go choose their own health insurance via an online marketplace. In Pedicini's article, she states:

[Under the Affordable Care Act] "large companies must provide affordable health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.
If they do not, the companies can face fines of up to $3,000 for each employee who then turns to an exchange — an online marketplace — for insurance."
This seems to be saying that full-time employees who get the vouchers discussed in the Financial Times article will cost the employer an additional up-to-$3,000. Darden seems to be spending a lot of money in an attempt to avoid spending any money on employee health care. How we choose to spend money matters.

Pedicini also writes:
"Analysts said limiting hours could pose new challenges, including higher turnover and less-qualified workers." 
Heh. Tell a Darden waitress (or SA) something she doesn't already know.

Saw a bumper sticker that I disagree with. It said, "This is America! We don't redistribute wealth, you have to earn it." The biggest problem I see is that it is impossible for workers to earn wealth when employers refuse to pay decent wages and benefits in return for labor. Trickle down does not work, and nobody gets out of poverty working for minimum wage and no benefits.

The next cry of the out-of-touch "job creators" is that they cannot afford to "create jobs" that pay above abject poverty and include basic benefits such as health care. I have seen too much to fall for this load of horse manure. Take the restaurant owner who "couldn't afford" to pay full-time kitchen staff more than $8-$10 per hour with no benefits, but paid himself $5,000 every two weeks. Take the small business owners who pled poverty when their IT crew asked for raises, then drove into the lot in brand new BMW's. Take Clarence Otis' compensation package of $8 million for 2011. "Job creators" need to invest in their employees or get out of business yesterday.

Instead of hiring an expensive firm like Kenexa to draft a personality test to weed out older workers, instead of cutting wages for hourly workers, and instead of cutting hours of workers so they still don't qualify for health care, Darden should invest in it's employees and cut corporate fat. They are putting the starving on a diet while ignoring their own obesity. The only good news in all of this is that if the restaurants are manned by stressed-out, overworked and underpaid people who spend their free time looking for a better job, customers will get fed up and stop patronizing the restaurant. When that happens, corporate goes out of business, as well.


  1. Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in a few of its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse eateries. Darden is reportedly taking the action to avoid the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2014,

    Under that law, also known as Obamacare, companies must provide affordable health insurance to employees working an average of at least 30 hours per week.

  2. It seems to me that Darden views paying for health care or decent wages to those who work there as throwing good money away. Hence doing everything they can to fight it or screw over their employees.

    That Luckovich toon is very apropos...

  3. Iam a server at Longhorn and our insurance for single just went from 36$ to 59$ a week!! Darden is getting away with enslaving their employees. We clean,sweep,roll silver,and clear our tables for 2.13$ a hour. While ilegal mexicans are making 12$ to 18$ in our kitchens. Its truly heartbreaking that we are already struggling to pay our bills. Now we are barely able to feed our families!

  4. I went from 32 hours a week to 19 hours......for no apparent reason. And we are one of the very busy restaurants. I am expected to do the same amount of work in less time. Not fair.


Please share your thoughts.