Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Organizing AND Health & Safety

I wrote the other day about the alleged conflict between organizing and health and safety. UNITE’s campaign to organize Cintas shows over and over again, that organizing and health & safety go together like corned beef and rye (or like rice and beans). UNITE has made health and safety issues a central part from the beginning of its campaign to get the Cincinnati-based laundry services company to recognize the union.

Focusing on health and safety is not just a matter, as some would allege, of exploiting a non-existent issue to fire up pro-union passions, but a process of educating workers about their right to a safe workplace and their right to complain to OSHA if their safety is being threatened. And they’ve begun to see some results:
OSHA accuses area Cintas of 30 violations
Three citations called 'serious' at San Leandro facility, which may be fined nearly $38,000

By Michelle Meyers, STAFF WRITER

SAN LEANDRO -- After a more than two-month investigation, California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Cintas Corp.'s San Leandro facility last week with 30 alleged violations that could result in fines of almost $38,000.

The Cincinnati-based company, which until recently provided laundry services for the city of Hayward, has been in the spotlight lately because of a local lawsuit employees filed against the company claiming it violated Hayward's living-wage law.

Employees, who are in the process of unionizing, may have triggered the visit from Cal/OSHA by requesting documentation on past injuries at the facility, said Jason Oringer, an organizer for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.

About 95 percent of the alleged violations at the facility were corrected before Cintas even received the citation report issued last Thursday, said company spokesman Wade Gates.
More Labor Day articles on the Cintas campaign here
and here and here.