For immediate release
December 15, 2004
Vallejo Angelica Textile Services workers tell hospital customers and Angelicawhat they want for the holidaysâ€
Vallejo, CA-On the day of their union contract expiration, laundry workers from Angelica Textile Services joined with members and leaders of local unions to demand significant improvements to working conditions.
In contract negotiations with Angelica, the country’s leading industrial healthcare laundry company, workers are seeking changes reduce the risk of injury from dangerous equipment, hazardous chemicals, and heavy lifting. Workers are also bargaining for the right of their nonunion counterparts at other Angelica plants to be able to join the union without fear of retaliation. Furthermore, workers are demanding critical information at the bargaining table about job security. The plant’s eighty workers have made the decision not to accept a new contract until it addresses these demands.
Supporters led a delegation inside the plant to raise these issues with management. Present on the delegation were representatives from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers, a worker from the Angelica plant in nearby Antioch, and a UNITE HERE member from the Clermont Hotel in Oakland where workers recently won a long fight for a first contract.
Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) offered his support for the workers today. “Employers need to maintain basic precautions to protect workers from sickness or injury, and I hope Angelica is responsive to workers’ safety concerns in contract discussions,” said Miller. “Angelica workers that don’t have a union should have the freedom to join one without fearing for their jobs,” he added. Miller is a coauthor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to form and join a union and get a first contract. The other members of the delegation carried messages of support and solidarity for the Vallejo workers.
The delegation delivered “Angelica’s Dirty Laundry,” a report written by the National Workers’ Rights Board, to the managers at the Ryder Street plant. The Board, comprised of notable national community leaders, compiled the report after a September hearing in St. Louis, Missouri, where Angelica is headquartered.
The report documents the serious health and safety concerns which Angelica workers from across the country shared in St. Louis. In Vallejo, workers are facing serious threats to their well-being on the job.
Â· Workers handle bloody linens without the proper precautions and protective equipment. Â· Workers do not receive adequate follow-up when they are cut or stuck with contaminated needles or medical devices left in linens. Â· Machinery is not guarded or maintained properly.
At the hearing, Mario Jaramillo, a soil sort worker from the Vallejo plant, stated, “Angelica claims to care about safety butâ€¦my coworker got his finger cut off by a machine that the company knew was broken and dangerous. I can’t feel safe in a workspace when I know the company is capable of being that careless.”
As set forth in detail in the report, the National Labor Relations Board is prosecuting the company on more than two dozen violations of workers’ federal rights to organize a union. “Angelica’s Dirty Laundry” also outlines a model of a fair and equitable process by which workers can organize.
Angelica Textile Services operates 30 plants across the US. Approximately three-fourths of Angelica’s 3700 employees are members of UNITE HERE. The expiration of the contract in Vallejo is the first in a series of contracts to expire in the coming year. Contracts at plants in Fresno, Stockton, and Antioch expire at the end of April.
UNITE HERE is the merged union of hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile and laundry workers. The new union represents nearly half a million workers in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Learn more about us at www.unitehere.org.