For immediate release
April 26, 2007
Laundry Workers' Campaign to Improve Working Conditions Continues
St. Mary’s Hospital agreed today to withdraw all of its claims against UNITE HERE, the laundry workers’ union currently organizing Superior Health Linens workers in
The hospital’s lawsuit, filed in February, came on the heels of a large rally the publication of an op-ed, and an open letter to Dr. Byrne (President of St. Mary’s) in which community, religious and political leaders called upon the hospital to accept moral responsibility for the plight of
“We said from the beginning that this was a blatant attempt to tie up union resources and to distract us from our support of Superior Health Linens workers,” says Bruce Raynor, General President of UNITE HERE. “We are pleased that St. Mary’s has agreed to withdraw its lawsuit so quickly, so that we can continue our campaign with the workers to improve their conditions without this distraction. If only St. Mary’s would stand up for
The union contends that St. Mary’s sued UNITE HERE because the hospital is embarrassed by exposure of St. Mary’s support for Superior Health Linens. Superior workers are fighting against poverty wages and terrible working conditions. Although exposed on a daily basis to human waste and blood, workers like Carlos Torres, an 8-year employee who earns less than $10.00 an hour, cannot afford health insurance.
Workers have reached out to St. Mary’s, a major Superior customer, to stop supporting Superior’s management, but so far without success.
“The hospital has continued to deny its moral responsibility to these workers” said Patrick Hickey of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice. The lawsuit, he continued, “was a failed and shameful attempt to make the hospital appear to be the victim here. We need St. Mary’s to act on its original mission of compassion for people like Superior workers, who work day in and out but still worry about providing the basics for their families.”
The workers have gained considerable support for their cause in Madison, even drawing the attention of celebrity activist Danny Glover. On March 24, accompanied by Raynor and addressing a crowd of 200, Glover called upon St. Mary’s Hospital to recognize their obligation to help Superior workers.