AFL-CIO General Counsel Jon Hiatt explains how the union movement’s campaign for justice for car wash workers in Los Angeles could become a model for future organizing.
A newly launched campaign on behalf of some 10,000 car wash workers in Los Angeles offers one of the most exciting examples of a genuine community-labor coalition that could provide a model for similar efforts in other industries and other cities around the country.
California leads the nation in the number of car wash operations and they are highly profitable, with a typical return on investment of more than 40 percent. However, the profits from this industry are largely derived from violations of workers’ legal rights, with rampant non-compliance with minimum wage, overtime, rest and meal period requirements. Car wash workers routinely work between 50 and 60 hours a week and average $12,500 a year with no benefits.