Student Center Cleaners Closed by State

If students looked a little wrinkly this week, it’s probably because their dry cleaners have been out of a job.

Alpha Cleaners, in the basement of the Student Center, was shut down on Monday because its owner had not paid for worker’s compensation insurance, according to Linnea Walsh, communications director at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. It will likely reopen soon.

MIT noticed the closure on Wednesday and got in touch with the owner Thursday, said Phillip J. Walsh, director of the Campus Activities Complex, which manages the Student Center.

The owner, ShiRu Huang, hoped to obtain worker’s compensation insurance and reopen the store tomorrow, said Phil Walsh, who said he had been able to reach Huang Thursday afternoon. Calls from The Tech to a “S Huang” listed in the Boston white pages were not answered.

All Massachusetts businesses are required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance policies. Businesses that do not hold policies may be closed if the state’s Department of Industrial Accidents finds out.

Linnea Walsh said relying on tips and an information database, the agency determined that Alpha Cleaners might not have worker’s compensation insurance. An employee visited the site and verified that it was not insured, and a “stop work order” was issued that was effective Monday.

Huang’s dry cleaning business is at five locations. The other four are properly insured, said Rob Lamontagne, a spokesman for the state executive office.

In order to reopen, a business owner must show that they now have insurance, and they must pay a fine of $100 per day they were closed. So Huang must pay a fine of $500 if he obtains worker’s compensation insurance and reopens the dry cleaner’s tomorrow.

“For every business that doesn’t have a worker’s comp policy in place, that drives up costs,” said Linnea Walsh.