Restaurant servers are some of the most underpaid workers in America. Sure, they make tips but their pay-per-hour is usually just a couple of dollars. This means that they have to work their asses off to earn the tips that they need to support themselves. As if this weren’t shitty enough, Darden Restaurants — the company that owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and others — has decided that they are going to fuck over their servers so hard by paying them with debit cards.
Now, this may seem like a swell idea at first. The employees don’t have to bring their tiny paychecks to a bank or check cashing place to access money, instead it is given to them on their handy-dandy debit card. According to a study released by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROCU):
Darden not only outsources the cost of paying its workers both to the customers, through the tipped subminimum wage, but also to the workers themselves through the use of payroll cards. The use of payroll cards is pervasive at Darden: according to a company spokesperson, 48% of Darden’s 140,000 hourly employees are compensated via payroll card. At a saving of $2.75 each pay period, Darden saves nearly $5 million a year by using payroll cards over paper checks.
YAY! So what’s wrong with this? Well, nothing for Darden, they are making out like bandits, but it’s not so great for their employees. ROCU found:
- 23% of employees reported not being given instructions on how to use the Darden Card.
- 76% of employees reported having to pay fees to access their wages at the ATM.
- 24% of employees reported fees at point-of-purchase.
- 63% reported that they were not told about all of the fees associated with the card before it was issued to them.
- 42% reported experiencing problems accessing their wages through the payroll card.
- 49% reported that they do not have access to ATMs that do not charge them a fee to access their wages.
- 54% of employees who used the card to fill up their gas tanks have experienced large authorization holds on their card as a result.
- 26% reported not being allowed to choose an alternative method of payment to the Darden payroll card.
So how much are they paying in fees? Over two hundred employees were surveyed and they reported that they had to pay at least $1.75 to pull their money out of an ATM. They also reported $5 monthly maintenance fees after 6 months of inactivity and $10 for replacement cards.
This pay scheme absolutely and completely screws over the people who work for this multi-billion dollar corporation, but at least it saves Darden some money. Not only does it save Darden money, but it makes banks a lot of money. Darden employees over 150,000 workers. Now, let’s say these employees get their paychecks every two weeks and half of them are given the debit cards (the others have their checks direct deposited). Now, how much money are banks making if those 75,000 employees use their cards at an ATM twice a month? $262,500 if the ATM only charges $1.75 fee (typically the charge in my experience is $3). That is more than a quarter of a million dollars a month, at the very least, or more than $3 million a year.
No wonder the low-wage workers are being fucked over! The scheme benefits everyone but them.
Isn’t Capitalism great?!
Featured image via LifeHacker