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New York City Carwash Workers Launch Fight for Rights

NYC carwash workers

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.

The Wash New York campaign aims to improve working conditions and standards and bring workplace rights and a voice on the job to carwash workers, says Stuart Appelbaum, president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW).     

Carwash workers should be able to exercise the same rights as all other U.S. workers; including the fundamental right to join a union if they so choose. The dirtiest practices in the car wash industry will only become full of more filth and grime if they are ignored. It’s time to wash them away for good.

The campaign is a collaboration between RWDSU and the advocacy groups Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change.    

At a press conference today, carwash worker David de la Cruz Pérez told reporters:  

Washing cars, the boss makes us work long hours, from seven in the morning until 7 o’clock at night, for $5.50 an hour plus tips. They yell at us, they disrespect us, and they treat us as if we were not even human beings.

Said Vincent Alvarez, president of New York City Central Labor Council (NYCCLC):

As we learned from WASH’s investigative report, carwashes have little oversight, and health and safety regulations are often routinely ignored while wage and hour laws get broken. These workers deserve better, and they are bravely speaking out today for the recognition of their right to join a union.  

Click here for the full report and to learn more, visit and connect with the campaign on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, updates and calls to action.

The Wash New York campaign is similar to the Southern California CLEAN Carwash Campaign where workers at several carwashes have won representation with the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675.

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