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Hospital Laundry Firm, Union Reach Accord

June 16, 2005|From Associated Press

The nation's largest hospital laundry service and the union representing workers who clean hospitals' sheets and towels say they have resolved a 1 1/2 -year labor dispute.

Angelica Corp. of Chesterfield, Mo., and Unite Here, representing production workers at 23 of Angelica's 35 plants nationwide, announced Tuesday that they had reached an agreement to allow workers at 11 nonunion plants decide whether they wanted to be represented by the New York-based union.

Angelica's 35 plants -- including six in Southern California -- employ 7,000 workers. The plants serve about 4,500 hospitals and other healthcare facilities nationwide, including about half of Southern California hospitals.

Under terms of the 10-year agreement, Unite Here will begin organizing employees at the nonunion plants and may attempt to do so at any nonunion facilities the company might acquire in the future.

Angelica and the union also negotiated tentative collective-bargaining agreements -- where contracts had expired -- at seven unionized plants in Northern California, New York, Florida and Texas. Each agreement is subject to ratification by employees. Those agreements, which vary from plant to plant, included wages, pensions and such health and safety issues as production rates and exposure to body fluids from patients who have contagious diseases.

Many of the low-skill jobs are filled by immigrant and single-parent laborers. The laundry workers had been earning $9 to $10 an hour.

The agreement also calls for the union to end its "corporate campaign" activities against the 125-year-old company, which reported 2004 sales of $316 million.

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