The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of Miami is teaming up with other South Florida organizations to support workers and staging a protest outside the Capital Grille on Brickell Avenue at 1:30 today. It's not their first protest, but it is the first time the group is targeting others besides restaurant employees.
The group is calling attention to HB655, a bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law last Friday. It bans earned sick days for Florida workers (or really, preemptively bans local governments from creating laws requiring paid sick time).
"As an organization that represents the interests of restaurant workers, we want to continue to advocate for what makes sense for those workers but, in this case, not just restaurant workers. It's also marginalized workers everywhere in South Florida," says Jean Souffrant, policy director of ROC Miami.
Capital Grille is the target because it is owned by Darden Restaurants, the corporate parent of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and other family favorites. Darden played a big role in lobbying in favor of the bill's passage, as did Disney.
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Other organizations taking action along with ROC Miami include South Florida Voices for Working Families and South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice. "We'll be right in front of the restaurant on the bridge. What this is, is essentially organizations coming together to support restaurant workers who are directly or indirectly affected by the signing of HB655," Souffrant says.
The ROC United produced a Red Lobster parody drawing attention to the issue in January, but this is no longer funny business. Souffrant says a lot of people still don't realize the bill was even signed into law, so they want to send a clear message. "It's us speaking out to say this is what our government has done for us. They sided with big business."