Airing Dirty Laundry: A Report on Cintas Worker Concerns

Sweatshop labor isn’t just a nasty side note happening in
faraway place like Guatemala or Indonesia. It’s going on right here
in the United States, delegates from the NICWJ found as they
visited plants run by the industrial laundry company Cintas in six
different cities. From Chicago to San Jose, CA to Rochester, NY,
NICWJ discovered similar heinous conditions and heard stories of
the workers, most of whom were immigrant, Latino, and African
American females. Their eight-page report, called Airing Dirty
Laundry: A Report on Cintas Worker Concerns
, is available on and was released
Wednesday, June 23, during a press conference in Cincinnati.

Worker complaints included in the NICWJ report include: ‘not
being paid for all hours worked, unsafe working conditions, racial
and sexual discrimination, arbitrary and unfair disciplinary
policies, and company harassment of workers interested in unions.’
Sister Barbara Pfarr, a nun who took part in the delegation to
check on worker conditions at Cintas, had this to say about the
exploited workers: ‘Every one of them kept working — quickly —
and never slowed down to look up, comment to a neighbor or give any
recognition that strangers had just invaded their workplace.’
According to the NICWJ report, ‘Their stifling workplace had no
amenities — no drinking water, no toilet tissue or soap in the
rest room. The important thing was keeping a job and keeping the
boss happy.’

Just as appalling, Cintas won’t even acknowledge the powerful
report. ‘Cintas’ refusal to meet with faith leaders to share the
company’s side of the story, or open a dialog, is worrisome. It is
only fair that we hear from Cintas, but company officials refused
to meet delegations in Long Island, N.Y., Branford, Conn., Chicago,
San Leandro, Calif., San Jose, Calif., and Rochester, N.Y. We are
here today because Cintas reneged on a promise to meet with us at
their company headquarters outside the city,’ said Kim Bobo,
National Interfaith Committee executive director.
Jacob Wheeler

Go there>>
Airing Dirty
Laundry: A Report on Cintas Worker Concerns

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