For immediate release
March 16, 2005
Company Demands "Environmental Charge" Despite Terrible Environmental Compliance Record
(Toronto – March 16, 2005) – Canadian taxpayers could be losing tens of thousands of dollars annually because of bogus surcharges on a federal government contract, according to a petition filed today with Canada’s Auditor General.
The labour union UNITE HERE alleges that Cintas Corporation (Cintas), which provides uniforms to federal inspectors at 66 abattoirs and other food preparation plants in south-western Ontario, regularly adds an “environmental charge” to its contract with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), even though the surcharge has been deemed bogus in other jurisdictions. In 2002, Cintas paid out almost $14-million to settle a U.S. class-action suit alleging that the company intentionally misled its customers about the surcharge.
“Cintas Corporation may have systematically overcharged Canadian taxpayers and gotten away with it,” says UNITE HERE Canadian Co-Director Alex Dagg. “We’re asking for a full investigation by the Auditor General to find out if Canadians have overpaid on these contracts over the years.”
Ironically, while charging an “environmental charge,” Cintas Corporation has regularly violated environmental regulations, the union alleges.
“Cintas charging extra for its environmental program is like paying a mechanic more to make your car stop running,” explains Dagg. “Not only is this US-based corporation potentially squeezing extra money out Canadian of taxpayers, it is compromising our environment.”
Cintas has failed to comply with minimal environmental regulations and may be putting natural resources and the public at risk. For example, from January 2001 to April 2003 Cintas violated Municipal wastewater discharge parameters almost 100 times.
Cintas is a contracted uniform supplier with the CFIA, an agency under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Cintas provides uniform rental service on contract to CFIA around Ontario, including Toronto, London, Belleville, Kingston, Waterloo, Guelph, and Hamilton.
UNITE HERE is a union representing over 50,000 members in Canada and more than 440,000 people across North America. UNITE HERE’s diverse membership includes many recent immigrants and a high proportion of women, representing workers in: hotels; casinos; apparel, textile and general manufacturing; apparel distribution centers; apparel retail; industrial laundries; food service; airport concessions; and restaurants. UNITE HERE was formed on July 8, 2004, from the merger of UNITE (formerly the Union of Needletrades, Textiles and Industrial Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union). UNITE HERE’s website is www.unitehere.ca.
For more information, please contact, Tim Grier at 519.505.0184 or Simon Collins at 416.510.0887 ext. 230