For immediate release
June 30, 2005
Workers Deserve Fair Wages, Better Benefits and Safer Working Conditions
Long Branch, NJ- Members of the Laundry, Dry-Cleaning and Allied Workers Joint Board, UNITE HERE, were joined today by union members from across the state at a rally to call on North American Linen (NAL) to reach a contract agreement with nearly 100 workers employed at their Long Branch facility, located at 165 Branchport Avenue. The Long Branch workers affiliated with UNITE HERE in 2004, and have been trying to negotiate a contract with NAL for more than six months. But during this time, workers have complained that NAL has intimidated and threatened employees for supporting the union and has attempted to convince the workers to join an independent union closely aligned with management.
“We want a contract that gives us decent wages and benefits, without fear of retaliation from the company,” said Abel Hernandez, a worker at the Long Branch plant. “We the workers have made it clear that we want a contract with UNITE HERE, and we cannot wait any longer.”
NAL is an industrial laundry facility that offers laundering services for clients such as restaurants and healthcare facilities throughout New Jersey and New York. Its employees, mostly immigrant workers, earn as little as $6 per hour with no medical benefits. NAL is under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board, Region 22, for alleged violations of workers’ rights including: threatening employees for supporting the union; pressuring employees to join a “sweetheart” union; and intimidating employees who wish to speak with UNITE HERE representatives.
“We are calling on North American Linen to improve the horrible working conditions of these employees, some of the lowest paid and most exploited workers in the country,” said Wilfredo Larancuent, manager of the Laundry, Dry-Cleaning and Allied Workers Joint Board. “North American Linen has intimidated these employees long enough. Now we want them to do the right thing and negotiate a fair contract.”
“For well over one hundred years organized labor has fought on behalf of employees for such things as the eight hour work day, overtime pay, increased wages and health benefits for workers as well as the respect and dignity that is deserving of all those who work hard for an honest days pay,” Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said in a letter read to the workers at the rally. “I support a workers right to organize and recognize the significant contribution that labor has made to our workforce and our economy.”
In addition to the rally at the Long Branch facility, the union also conducted informational leafleting at several restaurants that NAL services. Workers intended to alert NAL customers to the troubling working conditions at their place of employment.
UNITE HERE is a newly merged labor union of hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile and laundry workers, with nearly half a million members, including more than 40,000 laundry workers.