Thursday, February 6, 2003

Cintas in cross hairs of union over tactics

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cintas Corp. Wednesday was targeted for what the needle working trades union called the largest organizing effort in recent history.

UNITE, Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, said it was targeting the Mason uniform supplier as a company that "bullies, harasses, intimidates, and terminates'' employees who show union sympathies.

A spokeswoman for the company, the largest uniform supplier with profits last year of $234 million on $2.27 billion in sales, denied that it is anti-union.

Cintas shares closed Wednesday at $40.72, down 22 cents.

The union pointed to a number of union decertification votes at companies Cintas has acquired as an example of the company's anti-union bias.

The company said union representation is an employee decision.

"Cintas respects our employee partners' legal right to freely chose or refrain from choosing union representation,'' said Karen Carnahan, vice president and treasurer.

Cintas has 27,000 employees in 300 North America operations including 700 union-represented workers including plants in Delaware, Arkansas and California represented by UNITE.

The New York City-based union had news conferences in 17 cities to announce the filing of 76 unfair labor practice charges against the company.

Despite the company's string of 33 consecutive years of higher earnings and revenues, UNITE says employees haven't shared in the company's success.

It said the company has pushed higher health-care costs onto employees, while the union has negotiated a contract with the company that cost 25 percent of what non-union employees pay.

The company said UNITE organizers are "harassing employee partners at their homes even after the UNITE representatives were asked repeatedly to leave.''


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