Starboard to meet with Darden employees

A group claiming to represent unit-level Olive Garden employees says the dissident shareholder seeking to take control of the Italian chain’s parent company has bowed to demands for a sit-down. 

Last week, the investor, Starboard Value, and Olive Garden’s parent, Darden Restaurants, were warned that they faced “direct actions” if executives would not meet with a labor group calling itself Dignity at Darden.  The group said the demand for a meeting had been signed by 7,000 Darden employees.

Starboard officials have agreed to hold a meeting with Steve Gazzo, an Olive Garden employee who has been Dignity at Darden’s front man, according to a statement from the group. The press release noted that Gazzo is also a member of the Restaurant Opportunities Center, a nonprofit labor group that many in the restaurant industry have painted as a union in all but a few respects. ROC has been strident in pushing for higher wages and benefits like paid sick leave from Darden and other restaurant companies.

Darden had not responded publicly to Dignity at Darden’s meeting request as of the time this was posted. 


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