COLUMBUS, Ohio — A labor-backed group seeking to capitalize on a verbal gaffe by Gov. John Kasich delivered a letter Thursday to Bob Evans Farms Inc. pushing the company to improve benefits for employees.
Ohioans Against Shabby Benefits got its name from a remark Kasich made Tuesday while marking his 100th day in office. The Republican governor said a woman working at Bob Evans probably had no pension and health care benefits that were "shabby at best."
Company spokeswoman Margaret Standing said the governor called to apologize for what Bob Evans views as simply a misstatement.
"We know he's a fan, and he was apologetic for the attention," Standing said.
Last month, Kasich touted a deal keeping the restaurant and food company in Ohio. The state provided $7.7 million in incentives as part of the deal, which included a relocation of the company's headquarters from Columbus to the wealthy suburb of New Albany.
The labor coalition tied its Bob Evans effort to its fight against collective bargaining and pension limits backed by Kasich. He signed a law last month that allows unions to negotiate wages but not sick time, health care or pension benefits, a move that affects more than 350,000 public workers.
Teresa Law, a coalition representative and member of Service Employees International 1199, offered to help the company improve employee benefits.
"Governor Kasich should know something about 'shabby' benefits with his attack on workers' rights in this state," she said in a statement. "Governor Kasich needs to stop trying to eliminate middle class jobs when he should be creating them. Jobs with benefits are what Ohioans need to help get our economy back on track."
Standing said Bob Evans offers comparable benefits to its employees.
"All our employees at Bob Evans Farms Inc. have the opportunity to participate in a variety of benefits programs, including medical benefits and a 401(k) program," she said. "And we regularly review the benefits packages to make sure they're on par with other publicly traded restaurant companies."
She said benefits information is also posted on the company's website.