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An Even Sunnier Day at Bronx Carwash

(l to r back row) New York Communities for Change organizer Chio Valerio, RWDSU attorneys Liz Vladek and Larry Cary and RWDSU Assistant to the President David Mertz look on as Sunny Day worker Juan Campis signs new RWDSU contract.

Workers at Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx, N.Y., who joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) last year, ratified a three-year contract this week. The pact mirrors the contract the workers made with another carwash in Queens less than two weeks ago.

This makes Sunny Day the second carwash east of Los Angeles to be covered by a union contract. In 2012, the workers staged a 13-week strike after several unjust firings. Says Juan Campis, a worker at Sunny Day:

We are thankful to the WASH New York campaign....without their support, none of this would have been possible. I feel like we won what many deemed impossible. 

The workers’ effort to win a voice was backed by the WASH New York campaign, a joint effort between Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change, and supported by the RWDSU.

The three-year agreement for workers includes:

  • Four pay increases beginning June 4;
  • Paid breaks;
  • Language to ensure tips are shared fairly;
  • A grievance procedure, including the right to have a union representative present;
  • Up to four weeks of unpaid leave to visit their home countries; and
  • Employer-provided safety equipment. 

The new agreement also requires the employer to accommodate workers dealing with immigration issues, allowing workers to use personal days to deal with them.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum says:

This carwash contract has broad significance for all New Yorkers. It proves that low-wage immigrant workers are able and willing to stand up and fight for better lives through unionization.

Jaime Morales, a worker at Sunny Day from Mexico, says: 

It feels great to accomplish something that we thought was impossible and to show everyone that we won. Once again, we demonstrated sí, se puede! (yes, we can!).

In above photo, (left to right, back row): New York Communities for Change organizer Chio Valerio, RWDSU attorneys Liz Vladek and Larry Cary and RWDSU Assistant to the President David Mertz look on as Sunny Day worker Juan Campis signs new RWDSU contract.
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