For immediate release
June 8, 2005
Union Affirms Commitment to Seeking Out Cintas Workers Whose Rights Have Been Violated
On May 31, 2005 a Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania agreed to certify a class in the case of Pichler v. UNITE. While this decision certifies the common interests of a class it does not rule on the merits of the case.
UNITE HERE intends to appeal the certification and maintains that it did not use Department of Motor Vehicle records for any improper purposes. The lawsuit, financially supported by uniform giant Cintas, alleges that the rights of Cintas employees may have been violated when their personal information was obtained by UNITE HERE (formerly UNITE) through Department of Motor Vehicle records.
Eleuteria Mazon, a 13-year Cintas employee from Schaumburg, Illinois said, “Cintas is violating the rights of its ‘partners’ throughout the country. My coworkers and I need to know our rights and need to be informed of how we can protect ourselves against Cintas’ actions. We don’t care how we are found. What matters most is that we find out how to fight for our rights, and that we are able to work together.”
“Cintas workers have made it clear that they will not stop fighting until the company respects their rights,” said Liz Gres, an organizing director for UNITE HERE. “Cintas workers, like most American workers, surrender their privacy rights as they arrive at the work site. Cintas can spy on their workers, hold them in captive audience meetings at work or elsewhere, and contact them at home or on cell phones. But Cintas isn’t going to inform workers how to fight for their rights or join pending litigation that could benefit them. We are, and we do, and we won’t stop until Cintas workers have won their struggle for justice on the job.”
For over two years Cintas workers have been engaged in an effort to win living wages, affordable health insurance, safe working conditions and other workplace improvements. A critical part of Cintas workers’ efforts has been to enforce their rights in the workplace. In lawsuits and other pending investigations, workers have accused Cintas of underpayment, denying overtime, discrimination in hiring and promotions and numerous health and safety violations. Workers affected by these violations could become parties to lawsuits and eventually win damages from the company, but only if they are aware of their rights.
In an effort to inform Cintas workers of their legal rights and to help them pursue claims against their employer for a litany of abuses, UNITE HERE has contacted thousands of Cintas workers. Uniform giant Cintas currently faces a number of charges for breaking laws aimed at protecting workers:
Â· Current and former Cintas workers initiated a class action lawsuit against the company, charging that women and minorities are being assigned to the lowest paid and least desirable positions in the company. The Federal EEOC has intervened in this case to support workers’ claims that Cintas has failed to hire women into higher paying jobs as delivery drivers.
Â· Cintas drivers from across the United States allege that the company has failed to pay them overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. They have filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California.
Â· Production workers in San Leandro and Los Angeles, California charge that Cintas has failed to abide by local living wage laws and has paid employees below mandated living-wage levels. They have filed lawsuits seeking years of back wages.
Â· Since 2000, OSHA has cited Cintas over fifty times for exposing employees to “serious” hazards. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which “there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.”
Â· Cintas is under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board for dozens of charges of harassing, intimidating and surveilling workers that have tried to exercise their right to organize. After the NLRB General Counsel found dozens of other charges meritorious, Cintas settled them rather than face a hearing on them.
For more information, including interviews with workers, please contact Liz Gres at 646-522-9754 or Ahmer Qadeer at 646-872-2256.