February 21, 2013

 

Crème Flu-lee

 If employers don't offer workers health benefits, it affects all of us.
 The ACA makes it more affordable for businesses to offer health benefits to employees, including food-service workers.

For this week’s blog, we’re shifting our focus briefly off of health care outreach to Small Businesses to highlight the lamentable practices of some influential conglomerates.  Our Health Care Organizer, Courtney, recently got an e-mail from the organization SumOfUs – an online movement of consumers, workers and shareholders working to counterbalance the growing power of large corporations regarding one business in particular that still does not offer paid sick days to workers. 

The e-mail opened like this:

It’s flu season, but when you sit down in a restaurant, the last thing you want is a waiter with a cough carrying your breadsticks or a sous-chef with the flu…And yet if you’ve eaten at a Red Lobster or Olive Garden, there’s a good chance your food was prepared, handled, or served by a sick worker.  Darden, the massive conglomerate that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster, doesn’t offer its workers paid sick days, even though studies show that two-thirds of workers who don’t get to take paid sick days show up to work ill.

In addition to not offering paid sick leave, Darden has long ardently opposed the Affordable Care Act, which will soon require businesses to offer insurance to more employees.  As Huffington Post recently reported, Darden even tested shifting more employees to part-time so that the company wouldn’t be forced to provide health insurance.

However, due to backlash from the community, Darden has since recognized its error and retracted this failed test. This case is a PERFECT example of how we as citizens can decide enough is enough, organize and put an end to unjust practices when it comes to health benefits for workers, even when the odds seem too great.    

But the struggle is not over.  Many businesses (not just Darden) continue to engage in practices we as consumers should not support. 

As the e-mail goes on to state, “Darden can clearly afford to offer workers a better deal -- it’s one of the most profitable restaurant chains in America”

Practices like this impact so many different people—employees, their families, and all of us as customers, to name a few. The ability to call in sick and have other important health care benefits should be (and soon will be for many) accessible to all workers in businesses large and small.

Something we all have the power to do is to make the simple decision to support businesses that support the ACA and all of its protections.

Written by: Alyssa Haney, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas policy intern

Cross-posted on the Texas Treatment Blog in collaboration with Texas Well and Healthy to engage businesses in understanding the ACA and moving successful implementation forward in Texas.

View the Release as a .pdf: