Laundry workers hung out to dry

Since January of 2018, workers at the UW Consolidated Laundry have engaged in numerous efforts to halt University of Washington's effort to outsource non-profit on-campus laundry services to for-profit Auburn-based Hospital Central Services Association (HCSA).

The UW says they want to avoid capital costs to update the facility and claims a 3 million dollar savings by shutting the consolidate laundry down. But this cut has a face — in fact one hundred faces of mostly immigrant people of color, some of who have worked 20-plus years at the university, face layoffs.

UW Laundry

Our members assert that UW Medicine’s financial challenges are in no way meaningfully addressed by closing the laundry, and that any comparison of a unionized laundry service where workers receive Seattle’s minimum wage, healthcare benefits and the state pension plan cannot be made with private sector competitors that compete at the expense of labor standards. 

UW's Consolidated Laundry has provided a vital public service that enables UW Medicine to keep Harborview Medical Center, Northwest Hospital, UW Medical Center and the UW Neighborhood Clinics open and operational. But in the same year decisions to outsource laundry services, the UW finds the funds for raises  to UW top earners.

Quoted in a recent (11/28/18) Seattle Weekly article about the closure, Rod Palmquist, AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) higher education coordinator, takes issue with the way that UW Medicine has treated the laundry workers:

“President Cauce focuses a lot on issues of equity, but her actions in closing the laundry are disproportionately destroying the lowest-paid UW Medicine workers, who are mostly workers of color and immigrants,” Palmquist said. “Instead of engaging with us on ways to keep the laundry open, which would benefit the university, she took this action that is devastating to the most marginalized workers at UW.”

WFSE will continue to shine a light on the growing pay gap in Seattle that undermines the welfare of working families. You can help. Take a moment to send a letter your legislator about .......