"When I get home my whole body hurts. All I can do is take a pain pill and rest. I can't even hold my grandchild," said Adela Viera, who works in Cintas's Central Islip laundry. "I’m on the tour to get support so Cintas will make work safer for all of us."
Appearing on the tour are current and former employees of Cintas who have joined the Coalition of Injured Cintas Workers after enduring a range of injuries from repetitive stress to crushed limbs. The coalition was formed after safety hazards led to the March 2007 death of Oklahoma Cintas worker Eleazar Torres Gomez, who was dragged into a 300-degree industrial dryer by an unguarded conveyor.
Since this fatality, state and federal safety inspectors have cited Cintas for dozens of safety violations and proposed more than $3 million in penalties. The U.S. Congress also has held two hearings highlighting the safety problems at Cintas.
According to UNITE HERE, dangerous working conditions at Cintas persist. Last month, California inspectors issued special orders for potentially lethal hazards in two Cintas laundries. OSHA is investigating a Chicago-area facility for allegedly inadequately guarded machinery.
Workers at Cintas report that regardless of the pain and injuries they 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, which is supported by UNITE HERE and the Teamsters unions, and current and former Cintas employees. For more information, please visit http://www.uniformjustice.org.