"No more puking in our pasta," was the unappetizing slogan chanted by approximately 40 people holding a rally outside Olive Garden in Corbin's Corner on Thursday afternoon.
Connecticut Working Families oganized the rally to protest the policy of Olive Garden's Parent Company, Darden Restaurant Group, to not provide paid sick days to their food service workers.
Joe Dinkin, Communications Director for Connecticut Working Families, said that food workers, sympathizers, and public health advocates participated in the rally which was part of the Everybody Benefits campaign.
Elise Willer, who was handing out fliers to drivers entering the parking lot at Corbins Corner, said, "Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurant Group which makes $400 million per year. They can afford paid sick days."
"Our point is not to stop people from going to the restaurant, just to get them to treat their people well," Willer said.
The Paid Sick Leave Bill was narrowly approved by the appropriations committee on May 9, and is now awaiting action by the State Senate. If it passes, Senate Bill 913 would make Connecticut the first state to mandate paid sick leave for eligible employees. Businesses with less than 50 employees would be exempt from the requirement.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the Connecticut Restaurant Association oppose the controversial legislation because of its potential financial impact.
A release issued by Connecticut Working Families quotes Louis Lista, owner of the Pond House Restaurant in West Hartford, who expressed a different opinion. "Especially in the restaurant industry, I think paid sick days are critical for the health of my employees and my customers, and good for the bottom line," said Lista, who already provides his employees with paid sick leave.
The rallyers remained in front of Olive Garden throughout the busy lunch hour, holding signs with the words "No Sneezes in our Spaghetti" and "Unlimited Breadsticks but No Paid Sick Days."