For immediate release
August 27, 2004
Workers at Cintas' Brookfield and US Uniforms facilities in Kansas City, Missouri and Ft. Smith, Arkansas ratified new three-year collective bargaining agreements after postal workers tell Cintas -- we won't buy it!
Kansas City, MO & Ft. Smith, AR: After seven months of negotiations, workers in Kansas City, Missouri and Ft. Smith, Arkansas ratified agreements with Cintas. the nations’ largest uniform company. Members of UNITE HERE in Ft. Smith and Kansas City sew and distribute uniforms under the Brookfield label and distribute the US Uniforms brand to employees of the United States Postal Service.
After Cintas initially proposed wage increases of only pennies and substantial increases in the cost of health insurance, employees began contacting fellow union members in the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Members of both unions delivered a clear message to Brookfield and US Uniforms parent Cintas, “We won’t buy it if you don’t settle a fair contract.”
“The company wanted to push the increased cost of the health insurance on to us, but with the solidarity of the postal workers we made them settle a fair contract.” Said Linda Ludlow a machine operator in Ft. Smith.
The contract includes substantial wage increases, minor changes for employees in the cost of health insurance, the addition of immigrant rights language and finalizes the extension of collective bargaining rights to workers at a former non-union US Uniforms plant in Kansas City, Missouri. “For years we have wanted to be in the union and have the same contract as Brookfield workers, and now, with the help of postal workers, we finally got it, we finally got Cintas to recognize our rights.” Said Stanley Haynes, a Brookfield/US Uniforms employee, in Kansas City, Missouri.
With the settlement of the contracts in Kansas City and Ft. Smith, a scheduled boycott of Brookfield and US Uniforms products by postal workers has been called off.
Cintas, headquartered in Cincinnati, is the largest uniform rental provider and industrial launderer in North America. Thousands of Cintas employees in the United States and Canada are organizing to join UNITE HERE and the Teamsters union in order to improve working conditions and gain respect on the job.
UNITE HERE represents over 440,000 members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico including over 40,000 members in the laundry industry.