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Carwash Workers’ Message Hits Sunset Boulevard

Posted on November 16, 2009 | in Labor News | by
 
   

Chloe Osmer of the Clean Carwash Campaign in Los Angeles reports on a new way the workers are delivering their message across the area.

Last week, the message that carwash workers are organizing for justice reached new heights—above L.A.’s famous Sunset Boulevard. The billboard, which reads “Wash Away Injustice: Boycott Vermont Hand Wash,” stands out starkly among the sea of corporate advertising signs that line the popular strip.

Vermont Hand Wash, owned by brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian, has been at the center of an organizing campaign and currently faces charges by the Los Angeles city attorney of criminal misconduct.

Two months ago, carwash workers and their supporters were shut down when they tried to send a public message about their struggle by renting a billboard near Vermont Hand Wash calling on consumers to boycott the carwash.

The boycott message was considered too radical by corporate advertising executives, so the CLEAN Carwash Campaign agreed to a billboard message that read, “Support Carwash Workers: Wash Away Injustice.”

But even that was too much for the carwash owners and billboard owner CBS Outdoor, which apparently caved to pressure from the carwash owners and took down the billboard message, only minutes before it was to have debuted before a crowd of hundreds of CLEAN Carwash Campaign supporters.

But this week, L.A.’s carwasheros found a way to get their message out, finally finding a company that was willing to post their call for justice. The billboard stands above Sunset Boulevard at a spot traversed by over 18,000 people a day. In coming weeks, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos will see the message.

Bosbely Reyna, a former carwash worker from Vermont Hand Wash who is an activist with the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee of the United Steelworkers (USW), said:

We hope they see the billboard and support the boycott!

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