Another victory for carwasheros

Another victory for carwasheros

Through the winter, so many of you stood side-by-side with the carwasheros at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope. This spring – thanks to their courage and our community’s solidarity – they won a huge victory: a union contract with better wages, worker protections, and a $1,500 per-person signing bonus. 

This week, carwasheros across NYC (along with their partners at Make the Road NY, New York Communities for Change, and the RWDSU) won another big victory for fair wages, better working conditions, and basic worker dignity.

In response to unfair labor abuses at car washes across NYC (like the kind that used to happen at Vegas Auto Spa), the Council voted to pass the Car Wash Accountability Act, a piece of legislation that will help ensure car wash workers across the city are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

The Car Wash Accountability Act – sponsored by Speaker Mark Viverito, a long time champion of low wage workers – requires car washes to obtain and renew a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs. The license will take into account an applicant’s history, including any violations of labor, environmental, consumer protection, or workplace safety laws. The new law also requires that each car wash secure a $150,000 bond to cover damage awards to workers (for wage theft) or consumers (for damages). If the car wash has a collective bargaining agreement in place (as Vegas Auto Spa now does), then the law only requires a $30,000 bond – so the Act provides a strong incentive for carwash owners to reach fair terms with their employees.

This legislation is a great model for other industries as well – like nail salons, industrial laundries, or commercial waste – where workers too frequently face poverty wages, wage theft, and dangerous working conditions.  

On Wednesday night, carwasheros from across NYC came together to celebrate this victory, and the workers from Vegas Auto Spa received a special award for their commitment and courage throughout their recent fight (you can watch a short summary video here).

 

carwashero celebration

 

carwashero celebration

I was enormously proud to stand by them and cheer this victory, along with RWDSU, Make the Road, and NYCC, who have provided incredible organizing support. Thanks are especially in order for Speaker Mark-Viverito who has long been a major leader on this issue, and to Council Member Carlos Menchaca who stood with the workers, with the community, and with me every step of the way (including being arrested together in March). The carwasheros also gave awards to Congregation Kolot Chayeinu and Joel Shufro, members of our community who stood by them during the strike.

When workers find the courage to stand up together, they not only lift themselves up, they also call our entire city to recognize the basic dignity (including fair wages, working conditions, basic benefits, and the right to form a union) that all workers deserve.

Thanks for being part of this important campaign. It really made a difference.

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