Sunday, August 31, 2003

Key players in the fight over union


• Richard T. Farmer

Age: 68.

Position: Chairman and founder, Cintas Corp.

Headquarters: Mason.

Employees: 27,000 nationally, including 17,000 workers that UNITE and Teamsters are trying to organize.

About Farmer: He is credited with expanding his family-owned company from an industrial rag company to the nation's largest maker and supplier of uniforms. He is Cincinnati's wealthiest citizen; Forbes magazine says has a net worth of $1.6 billion, and he's a major Republican contributor. Analysts say the union organizing campaign is not having a huge effect on his company, but it could become a bigger risk if the campaign continues for a long time. Value of the company's stock could be depressed if investors see it as a problem.

• Robert J. Kohlhepp


Age: 59.

Position: Vice chairman, Cintas Corp.

About Kohlhepp: Chief executive officer of Cintas until mid-July and point person in the company's fight with UNITE and the Teamsters.

• Bruce Raynor

Age: 53.

Position: President of UNITE, formerly the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.

Headquarters: New York.

Membership: 250,000.

About Raynor: For 30 years, he's been involved in labor battles nationwide. He is considered one of the country's best union organizers. He helped organize a successful 17-year campaign against J.P. Stevens & Co., a textile firm that eventually became part of WestPoint Stevens. He also fought 10 years to win a first contract for 100 employees at an Atlanta company. He has made Cintas the focus of the union's drive to organize industrial laundries.

• James P. Hoffa

Age: 62

Position: President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

Membership: 1.4 million.

About Hoffa: The son of the controversial and powerful leader of the Teamsters Union from 1957 to 1971 is teaming with UNITE, a rare joint organizing effort, against Cintas.

• John J. Sweeney

Age: 69.

Position: President, AFL-CIO, a federation of 65 labor unions.

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.

Membership: Its unions represent 13 million workers.

About Sweeney: He has made organizing campaigns a major focus. If he can rally labor's support of UNITE's campaign, it would be a significant boost to his legacy.

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