General Mills is asking its 120,000 restaurant employees to urge Congress to defeat healthcare reform measures proposed by President Clinton and the House and Senate majority leaders.
The cereal and food company, which owns the Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurant chains, sent a letter and videotape to be shown to restaurant workers this month. It calls for the defeat of plans that impose new costs on employers and employees.
General Mills joins major companies including IBM, Eastman Kodak Co. and DuPont in calling on employees to push for defeat of various healthcare bills before Congress.
"We want all our employees to have insurance," General Mills restaurant division executive Rick Walsh wrote in an Aug. 3 memo to workers, "but we strongly believe this can be accomplished without employer-employee mandates which would lead to higher prices, fewer guests and lost jobs for many of our employees."
The restaurant division is based in Orlando, Fla. It offers a health insurance plan to all employees who have worked for six months and are employed 15 hours a week or more.
Because many restaurant workers earn minimum wage, it would be difficult to cover new, government-mandated insurance costs by cutting pay, executives say. The only choice would be raising prices. That, Mr. Walsh said, could be devastating in the highly competitive restaurant business.
General Mills is asking Red Lobster and Olive Garden employees to mail company-supplied postcards to their congressional representatives.
Mr. Walsh said managers were told to emphasize that participation was voluntary.