Monday, May 31, 2004

Health and Safety Major Issue of UNITE Organizing Campaign

UNITE, along with Duke Students Against Sweatshops, is attempting to organize Angelika Laundry Services which has the laundry contract for the Duke University Health System. The groups allege Angelica has a history of unsafe working conditions and mistreating its workers and are trying to get the university to pressure the laundry service into recognizing the union.
In a May 26 letter to Duke health system vice President Bill Donelan, UNITE, Duke Students Against Sweatshops, Triangle Jobs with Justice and the Student Employee Relations Committee said a recent investigation by the union found that the linen-handling practices in Angelica's plants did not meet the standards set forth by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The letter also repeated earlier complaints that Angelica violated Occupational Safety and Health Administration's standards.

The most significant of the complaints included fines for health and safety violations at Angelica's Los Angeles plant dating back to December 2001. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Web site, five of those 19 violations were "serious," including an incident in which an employee's fingers were amputated in a machine.
Duke, however, is refusing to get involved in the campaign, arguing that the issue is between the union and the company.