By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The needletrades union UNITE and the Teamsters union have joined forces to organize Mason-based Cintas Corp.'s 17,000 hourly workers.
The partnership, announced at a news conference in Chicago by Teamsters president James Hoffa and UNITE president Bruce Raynor, is the latest escalation in the needletrade union's campaign to win organizing recognition from the uniform supplier.
"This is a very powerful partnership, one that will bring a greater level of intensity and visibility to the Cintas campaign," Hoffa said in a statement.
Under the unions' agreement, the Teamsters will attempt to organize Cintas' route drivers and inform companies with Teamster contracts about the effort.
UNITE, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, will concentrate on Cintas' laundry workers.
"Our unions may have different perspectives and history, but we are coming together to put an end to the disgraceful behavior of industry giant Cintas," Raynor said.
A Cintas spokesman said the UNITE-Teamster alliance doesn't change a thing.
"Our position is that our employees have the right to decide for themselves if they want to be in a union," Wade Gates, Cintas spokesman, said.
UNITE wants Cintas, the nation's largest uniform supplier, to recognize it as employee bargaining agent when a majority of workers sign cards saying they favor unionization. That would avoid potentially costly union elections.
About 700 of Cintas' 17,000 hourly employees are represented by unions including UNITE and the Teamsters.
UNITE represents about 250,000 workers, including about 40,000 in the laundry industry. The Teamsters, one of the world's largest unions, has 1.4 million members.
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