The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Feds Accuse Nationâ€TMs Largest Laundry Firm of Unfair Labor Practices

by Brendan Coyne

Oct. 12, 2005 – Topping a series of challenges to the nation’s largest laundry company, two unions seeking to organize workers at Cintas Corporation earlier this month applauded a recent Labor Department ruling allowing hearings over alleged labor-law violations against Cintas to go forward. The National Labor Relations Board will hold four hearings as the company seeks to settle fifteen other allegations of unfair labor practices.

In a jointly issued statement, garment and restaurant workers’ union Unite Here and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters promised to continue fighting for the laundry laborers.

"Cintas workers should be applauded for courageously attempting to form a union," Unite Here President Bruce Raynor said. "They are facing a company that is a repeat offender and continues to act as if it is above the law."

Teamsters President Jim Hoffa said, "We won’t stop until the company honors the workers’ legal right to form a union."

The NLRB decision to pursue hearings over charges that the laundry giant engaged in proscribed tactics in an effort to prevent workers from forming a union comes as a number of court cases brought against Cintas take shape or finish up.

Last Thursday, Unite Here cited victories in North Carolina and New York State on workplace safety issues as evidence that the company’s workers were gaining the upper hand in organizing battles.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company $4,250 for safety violations at a Central New York plant and another $5,250 for failing to provide employees in a North Carolina plant with information about the chemicals they work with, Unite Here noted.

Friday, a New York State Judge agreed to let a lawsuit charging that the company was improperly granted over $600,000 in tax breaks to locate a facility in an Upstate industrial park. The suit, brought by a resident of the area, also cites concerns that the laundry would pollute a nearby body of water, the Seneca River.

Last month, a California court ordered the company to pay over $1 million in back wages to workers to rectify violations of a municipal living-wage law.

In addition, the company is facing three separate employee class-action lawsuits alleging discrimination in hiring and promotions, Unite Here said. The first suit was filed in the summer of 2004, the most recent this past August, the union noted.

In a December report compiling employee complaints, the Teamsters and Unite Here allege that Cintas is a routine violator of workplace health and safety regulations and rules protecting workers’ right to form a union.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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