Thursday, April 28, 2005

Angelica Workers Using Workplace Safety To Organize Over Health and Safety Issues

Using health and safety issues in an bargaining campaign? There's an idea.

Workers at Angelica Textile Services are bringing health and safety issues to the front of their stuggle to force the company to bargain in good faith. The workers, represented by UNITE, held Workers Memorial Day rallies in Oakland, Los Angeles and Fresno, California:
Laundry workers at Angelica toil in filthy, unsanitary conditions where repetitive strain injuries are common, amputations occur, and linen quality is questionable. Workers face dangerous working conditions, including handling material which may carry HIV. Although workers are exposed to Hepatitis B, Angelica doesn’t always provide vaccinations. The multi-million dollar company, based in Chesterfield, Missouri, faces over $435,000 in possible fines from federal and state health and safety agencies.
Angelica is the leading health care linen service provider in the United States. The company has been cited in 17 different OSHA investigations and faces proposed penalties of nearly half a million dollars for not providing the safety training or protective equipment, even though they're exposed to linens soaked with blood and feces, that frequently contain used hypodermic needles and surgical instruments. Despite their exposure to materials that could transmit hepatitis B, the Angelica workers are not provided hepatitis B vaccinations.

A contract covering several Northern California shops expires on April 30th and Angelica workers throughout the the nation have threatened to strike on May 5if the company continues to break labor laws, jeopardize their health and safety and bargain in bad faith.