For immediate release
July 22, 2008
Workers Speak Out About the Pain and Injuries Suffered On the Job
CHICAGO, July 22, 2008—The Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers today announced the launching of a nationwide tour to expose the hidden human costs of keeping America’s laundry clean. This summer, the Painful Truth Tour will span the nation to show investors, community leaders and Cintas uniform wearers in the hospitality industry the effect that unsafe machinery and production quotas at Cintas plants around the country have on laundry workers’ health.
“When I get home my whole body hurts. All I can do is take a pain pill and rest. I can’t even hold my grandchild,” said Adela Viera who works in Cintas’s Central Islip laundry. “I’m on the tour to get support so Cintas will make work safer for all of us.”
Appearing on the tour are current and former employees of Cintas who have joined the Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers after enduring a range of injuries from repetitive stress to crushed limbs. The Coalition was formed after safety hazards led to the death of Oklahoma Cintas worker Eleazar Torres Gomez. Mr. Torres Gomez was killed in March 2007 after being dragged into a 300-degree industrial dryer by an unguarded conveyor. Since this fatality, state and federal safety inspectors have cited Cintas for dozens of safety violations and proposed more than $3 million in penalties. The U.S. Congress has held two hearings highlighting the safety problems at Cintas.
Despite the deadly wake up call, dangerous working conditions persist. Last month California inspectors issued special orders for potentially lethal hazards in two Cintas laundries. OSHA is investigating a Chicago-area facility for allegedly inadequately guarded machinery.
Workers at Cintas report that regardless of the pain and injuries they suffer, they are pressured to hit production targets each day. Last December, the Wall Street Journal recently reported a higher injury rate for industrial laundries than for chemical manufacturing or oil drilling.
Cintas provides laundry, uniforms and other business services to 800,000 customers across North America. The Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers is a joint effort by the Uniform Justice campaign and current and former Cintas employees. Since 2003, UNITE HERE and the Teamsters unions have supported Cintas workers’ fight for better, safer jobs through the Uniform Justice campaign.
For more information, please visit www.uniformjustice.org and www.MakeCintasSafe.info.