For immediate release
February 29, 2008
Laundry workers, community allies had asked patrons not to frequent Fox RC since '06, due to Milum's ongoing illegal violations of workers rights
SCOTTSDALE, AZ – After more than a year of consumer boycott in Denver, Phoenix and Tucson over worker rights abuses at its linen contractor Milum Textile Services, Fox Restaurant Concepts severed its business relationship with Milum.
Milum Textile workers first brought numerous health and safety violations at their plant to the attention of Sam Fox, Fox Restaurants CEO in 2006. After Fox and his upscale restaurant group repeatedly refused to take responsibility for the conditions under which its napkins and tablecloths were laundered, Milum workers and the laundry workers union UNITE HERE initiated the boycott.
“After refusing to take responsibility for so long, we’re happy that Fox Restaurants no longer does business with Milum,” said Evangelina Guzman, a former Milum worker fired after testifying against the company at a National Labor Relations Board hearing. “Mr. Milum knows that we workers want justice. Now, thanks to consumers, he knows that the public, too, is watching when he abuses workers and breaks the law.”
Workers began speaking out publicly about mistreatment and working together in a unionization effort to change conditions at Milum in Spring 2006. Milum Textile and its CEO, Craig Milum, retaliated immediately with a barrage of illegal intimidation tactics, including firing and disciplining pro-union workers, placing a surveillance camera in the employee lunchroom, threatening to reduce wages, and interrogating workers days before a National Labor Relations Board hearing. Mr. Milum personally carried out many of these illegal attacks on workers, including the firings.
To draw attention to the abuses and publicize the boycott, laundry workers in Phoenix and community volunteers in Denver and Tucson began distributing information to patrons at Fox Restaurant locations in all three cities. 1,500 people contacted Sam Fox via email demanding he take responsibility for the working conditions of Milum workers, and workers and supporters surprised Mr. Fox with an award for “Sweatshop Linen User of the Year” at a public party in Scottsdale.
Incredibly, while an NLRB judge slammed the company with convictions for these abuses, including ordering reinstatement with back pay for the fired workers, Milum continued to retaliate against its workers during and after the NLRB hearing. The company fired yet another pro-union worker, Evangelina Guzman, days after she testified against the company, while suspending and threatening others for showing support for unionization. The NLRB’s Phoenix office is currently civilly prosecuting Milum for these alleged violations.
Guzman said the workers will continue their efforts to bring consumer attention to working conditions at Milum, which contracts with hospitals, hotels and restaurants across Arizona, until the company rectifies the abuses.