CHICAGO — This summer, the Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers is embarking on a national “Painful Truth Tour” to show investors, community leaders and Cintas Corp. uniform wearers in the hospitality industry the effect that allegedly unsafe machinery and production quotas at Cintas plants around the country have on laundry workers’ health, the coalition says.
Current and former employees of Cintas who have joined the Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers will appear on the tour to display the injuries they have suffered — ranging from repetitive stress to crushed limbs, according to the coalition.
Coalition members claim that regardless of the pain and injuries Cintas workers suffer, they are pressured to hit production targets each day. Last December, the Wall Street Journal reported a higher injury rate for industrial laundries than for chemical manufacturing or oil drilling.
The Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers is a joint effort by the Uniform Justice campaign and Cintas employees formed after the death of Eleazar Torres-Gomez, an Oklahoma Cintas worker who was killed in March 2007 after being caught in an industrial dryer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed an unprecedented $2.78 million in penalties for safety violations in Tulsa following Torres-Gomez’s death.
“The safety and well-being of our employee-partners is a top priority at Cintas,” the company says in a prepared statement. “While we take every injury, illness or complaint seriously, at least some of the allegations being made as part of this union press event ... appear to have never been brought to our attention. That’s why we have worker safety committees at every location, open-door policies across the company, and other ways to anonymously report issues and concerns.” Only four members of the Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers currently work for Cintas, the company adds.
“The company has a safety record 20-30% better than the industry average,” the statement continues. “Since the accident in Tulsa, the company has redoubled its efforts to further improve its safety record, incorporating the latest training programs and working with equipment manufacturers and experts on upgrades and enhancements. ... While the union may continue to capitalize on the tragic event in Tulsa for its own purposes, safety has always been a priority at Cintas and we are always striving to enhance workplace safety through new procedures, new safeguards and new training.”
Cintas provides laundry, uniforms and other business services to 800,000 customers across North America.