L.A. Carwash Workers Celebrate Law Preventing Wage Theft, Spread the Word
Chole Osmer of the Clean Carwash Campaign in Los Angeles took part in a rally to celebrate a new law that protects workers from wage theft and later helped spread the word to carwash workers across the area.
Carwash workers and their community supporters celebrated passage of A.B. 236, a bill to renew the state’s Carwash Worker Law on Friday. Carwash workers, legal services, community organizations and unions announced the launch of an outreach campaign to raise awareness about the law to the roughly 10,000 workers in the Los Angeles-area carwash industry.
The Carwash Worker Law was one of only a handful of labor bills signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this legislative session. Manuel Zuniga, who worked at Florence Carwash in Los Angeles for more than three years, told the crowd:
Carwash workers helped pass this law, and now we want all workers in this industry to know it exists. We have found our voice and we are saying, “Ya basta” (”We’ve had enough”) to exploitation!
Community members and union supporters held banners proclaiming, “Wash Away Injustice,” and workers stood behind a large display of fliers describing the Carwash Worker Law they later distributed to carwash workers across the city.
The law provides workers with a means to collect unpaid wages by creating a fund for carwash workers and requiring all carwashes to purchase a surety bond as insurance for unpaid wages. The law also requires carwashes to register with the state of California, enabling officials to prevent employers who have violated labor laws in the past from continuing to do so.
Aura Lopez, who worked at the Best Way Car Wash, told the crowd:
I’m a member of the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee. And we are going to take the message about the law to all carwash workers in Los Angeles. I want to invite other carwasheros to join us and stand up for their rights!
Henry Huerta, director of the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, said:
The Carwash Worker Law has helped to increase enforcement, but in order to clean up this industry, it must be fully enforced.
That’s why we’re reaching out today: to the public to be conscious consumers, to employers to obey the law and to workers to speak out for their rights.
Carwash workers and their supporters also celebrated a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) order that compensated workers subjected to unfair labor practices, including four who were fired or had their hours cut after they tried to improve conditions by forming a union.
On Friday morning and again in the afternoon, the carwash owners, in the presence of an NLRB agent and union representatives, read a notice to employees during paid working time that advised workers of their right to form a union and listed the ways in which the carwash will refrain from interfering with that right.
More than 50 community and union supporters joined carwash workers to celebrate the victories. The event ended with coffee and a cake with that said “Felicidades Carwasheros!” (Congratulations Carwash Workers!)