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Union Question and Answer

What is Cintas’ history with unions?
How much of Cintas’ workforce is unionized?
What is Cintas’ position on unions?
When did this organizing campaign at Cintas begin?
Why is Cintas being targeted for organizing?
Is Cintas anti-union?
What do the unions want?
What’s wrong with a card-check agreement?
Why does the union want these agreements?
Why doesn’t Cintas just give in to the union’s demands?
What is Cintas doing in light of this campaign?
How much is the union's corporate campaign costing Cintas?
How much litigation has been filed as part of the union organizing campaign, and how much is that costing the company?
Are the allegations being made about Cintas true?
But hasn’t the company been found in violation of OSHA laws?
What other kinds of tactics have the unions used in its campaign?

What is Cintas’ history with unions?

Cintas has always respected our employee-partners' decisions regarding unionization, and currently several groups of employee-partners have chosen to be unionized. In these situations, we work to create a positive working relationship.

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How much of Cintas’ workforce is unionized?

Fewer than 300 Cintas employee-partners at various locations belong to a union.

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What is Cintas’ position on unions?

Cintas believes that its employee-partners have the right to say yes, and the freedom to say no, to union representation. We respect our partners’ rights to choose what is best for them and their families.

That said, we believe that, generally speaking, unions often create an environment of antagonism and distrust between a company and its workers. Proof of this is seen clearly in the tone and nature of the caustic union-led attacks that we've experienced recently. This antagonism is contrary to the culture of respect and trust that we've worked hard to build with our employee-partners over the years — a partnership we view as the foundation of our continued success.

For more information on Cintas and our position on unions, visit www.CintasFreedomToChoose.com.

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When did this organizing campaign at Cintas begin?

UNITE began its organizing campaign on January 13, 2003, and was joined by the Teamsters later that summer. UNITE merged with the hotel-workers union, HERE, in the summer of 2004.

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Why is Cintas being targeted for organizing?

This campaign was created by the unions seeking new members and dues-monies — not employees seeking a union. Cintas was targeted merely because it has a largely non-union workforce and enjoys a direct working relationship with its employee-partners.

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Is Cintas anti-union?

No. Cintas is pro-employee.

First and foremost, we believe that it is the right of our employee-partners to choose to unionize or not. We respect this right and hope that unions would also.

From a larger perspective, we believe that, generally speaking, unions often create an environment of antagonism and distrust between a company and its workers. One only needs to look at the malicious tone of materials that the unions have been distributing recently to see how our relationship would change if a union inserts itself in our everyday partner dialogue.

Unions generally don't care about our customers or our business. They usually stand between our partners and management, making teamwork difficult — if not impossible. We simply don't believe that we can properly manage our business if unions stand between the company and our employee-partners.

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What do the unions want?

The unions want two things:

They want Cintas to sign a card-check agreement, a scheme in which employees would be unionized outside of the government-supervised secret-ballot process. In a card-check agreement, employees are unionized merely by signing their names to cards when they are approached by union organizers.

The unions also want a neutrality agreement, under which Cintas would be prohibited from responding to any of the union's allegations — like a gag order — and could be forced to disclose names/addresses/phone numbers of all Cintas employees to the union.

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What’s wrong with a card-check agreement?

While the NLRB secret-ballot process is government-supervised, the card check is completely unregulated. Union organizers can say anything and promise anything to get signatures on cards. Many times people sign cards only to get more information and are unaware that they’re signing a legal document appointing the union as their official representative.

The history of card-check efforts in the United States is rife with stories of intimidation, abuse and outright fraud. For example, Cintas employee-partners have reported intimidation by union organizers, being followed home at night and being offered money in exchange for their signatures on cards.

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Why does the union want these agreements?

A card-check agreement makes it easier for the union to sign up large numbers of new members quickly and easily, since it shortcuts the protections of the government-supervised NLRB process.

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Why doesn’t Cintas just give in to the union’s demands?

We believe the decision is not ours to make — it is up to our employee-partners and their families. Cintas believes that its employee-partners have the right to say yes, and the freedom to say no, to union representation. We respect our partners’ rights to choose what is best for them and their families.

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What is Cintas doing in light of this campaign?

First, as we have for decades, Cintas focuses on being a great company and good employer — providing competitive wages, attractive benefits and great working conditions, all within a culture of trust and respect.

Second, we have been very active to ensure that our employee-partners have all the facts — that they know what their rights are under the NLRB process, that they understand who Cintas is and what they already have as employees and shareholders of our company, and that they have all the facts about the unions’ promises and allegations.

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How much is the union's corporate campaign costing Cintas?

Cintas’ expenses related directly to the union campaign are not insignificant, but they are not material to the finances of the corporation.

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How much litigation has been filed as part of the union organizing campaign, and how much is that costing the company?

The union has initiated several lawsuits against Cintas by actively cultivating plaintiffs and arranging for their legal counsel, which is consistent with tactics used against other companies in other corporate campaigns. These cases are fully disclosed in our filings with the SEC, and our continued record of earnings reflects the costs and expenses of defending this campaign.

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Are the allegations being made about Cintas true?

The unions’ allegations about Cintas are outright falsehoods, gross exaggerations of the truth, or merely name-calling for PR’s sake — and are made solely to generate negative publicity about our company.

For example, the unions once attempted to characterize our facilities as "sweatshops," despite the fact that the company has constructed almost 70 modern air-conditioned facilities in the last decade. Once we demonstrated how new, modern and comfortable our facilities were, the unions’ allegations ceased.

Another example is the claim that our facilities are dangerous, despite the fact that Cintas has an excellent safety record with an injury and illness rate better than industry averages, according to government data.

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But hasn’t the company been found in violation of OSHA laws?

Cintas is routinely audited by OSHA and other regulatory agencies, and to a great degree is found in complete compliance with all applicable laws and regulations — but yes, some violations have been noted. In some circumstances, we respectfully disagree with the inspectors and follow the appeals process. In other circumstances, when a deficiency is identified, we've addressed it and fixed it. At Cintas, we live by the rules and our culture is based on adherence to strict codes of business ethics.

Moreover, we believe a direct measurement of our commitment to safety is our actual injury and illness rate, which is better than industry averages, according to government data.

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What other kinds of tactics have the unions used in its campaign?

Because Cintas will not agree to a card-check agreement, the unions have attempted:

  • Picketing, handing out leaflets
  • Contacting our employees at home by unlawfully obtaining addresses through license plate records (Cintas partners have won a lawsuit regarding this matter)
  • Filing lawsuits and unfair labor practices with the NLRB
  • Pressuring political leaders, religious groups and suppliers to support their cause through misleading letters, visits, rallies and the spread of misinformation
  • Distributing misleading and highly sensationalized letters to Cintas customers in an attempt to disrupt our outstanding business relationships
  • Attempting to block the company’s efforts to build new plants that create many new jobs
  • Highly exaggerating and reporting outright falsehoods to the public

However, the unions’ tactics have been largely ineffective, given Cintas’ strong relationships and reputation among our employee-partners, our communities and our customers.