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Aramark Loses Laundry Contract to Oregon Prisoners

Effective June 2011, prisoners at the Oregon State Penitentiary took over the job of cleaning microfiber mop heads for the Salem Hospital.

The hospital previously contracted with Aramark Uniform Services to clean its mops, but on March 10, 2011 the hospital gave 90-day notice that it was canceling the contract due to concerns about Aramark’s cleaning quality.

“The problems were really about infection prevention because instead of being returned clean, we were getting mop heads back that were stinky and crusty,” said Julie Howard, a spokesperson for the hospital. “So we weren’t able to use them. We instead were using a supply of our own mops that we cleaned in-house.”

Rather than contract with another private company, the hospital turned to the Oregon State Penitentiary’s commercial laundry.

“We already contract with [the prison] to clean our bed linens and staff scrubs, and they are doing excellent work,” Howard noted. “We’ve been very happy with their attention to quality, the infection prevention that we require in a hospital.”

Business owners and labor unions often accuse prison industries of competing unfairly with the private sector because they are exempt from minimum-wage laws and other requirements. Aramark, however, had little to say about losing the Salem Hospital laundry contract to prison labor. Perhaps the irony of a prison profiteer losing business to prison slave labor is not lost on the company.

“We stand behind the quality and service we provide,” said Sarah Jarvis, Aramark’s communications director. “Although disappointed, we remain committed to identifying new business opportunities that will help minimize any impact.”

Source: Statesman Journal

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