In some year-end reviews of labor in 2012 (here and here), we see an important missed connection that the union movement is committed to building in 2013. While these reviews identify important worker struggles throughout the year, they fail to recognize that all workers—immigrant, public, private, low-wage and middle-class—share values and experiences that unite them in a broad-based union movement. A major theme of many of last year’s important labor struggles was how immigrant workers and the union movement came together in local communities to win justice.
After years of organizing, Los Angeles carwash workers successfully negotiated contracts with three carwashes and gained workplace rights most workers should be able to take for granted: sick leave, access to health care, workplace safety, lunch breaks, living wages and respect. The carwash workers were successful, in large part, through the strength of community-labor partnerships.
In this video, Miguel, a carwash worker of 18 years, sees the power of community-labor partnerships in his experience organizing for workplace rights.
For the past several years, the Southern California CLEAN Carwash Campaign has raised awareness of the serious exploitation faced by thousands of carwash workers—known as carwasheros—including violations of health and safety laws, wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination laws.
Los Angeles carwash workers are getting health care—all because of a dynamic partnership between the United Steelworkers and members of the local community who have joined forces to help carwasheros gain a voice on the job.
Click here to see a video clip that highlights how this partnership improves the lives of workers.
As carwash worker Oscar says: "Now, thank God my life has changed. If I get sick and feel bad, I have a clinic to go to. This is all because of the campaign."
New York City carwash workers are following their Los Angeles counterparts to battle rampant mistreatment, wage theft and unsafe working conditions. Today the coalition, WASH New York, released a report—“The Dirty Business of Cleaning NYC’s Cars”—that details the long hours, low pay and dangerous conditions the city’s more than 5,000 carwash workers at some 200 carwashes face every day.