Bloomberg Law®, an integrated legal research and business intelligence solution, combines trusted news and analysis with cutting-edge technology to provide legal professionals tools to be...
By Alicia Biggs
Members of a proposed bargaining unit comprised of 33 car wash workers employed at Webster Car Wash in Bronx, N.Y., have voted for representation by the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, a National Labor Relations Board representative said Oct. 22.
In an NLRB-supervised election conducted Oct. 20, cashiers and car wash workers voted 22-5 for representation by RWDSU, NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland said.
RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
“The RWDSU has long been dedicated to improving the lives of low-wage workers, and we are proud of the employees at Webster, who have taken a significant step toward improving their jobs and their lives by voting to join the union today,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a Oct. 22 statement. “Across the city, car wash workers are standing up, speaking out and demanding that they be treated with dignity and respect. This is a building movement.”
In the WASH-NY (Workers Aligned for a Sustainable and Healthy New York) campaign, RWDSU and the groups Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change have targeted an industry that they said has more than 200 car washes and 5,000 employees in the city and “exploits its workforce with wages that are low and too often illegal.”
A survey conducted for the campaign found that 75 percent of New York car wash workers were not paid overtime for working more than 40 hours a week. Most of the facilities are individually owned small businesses, the survey found.
Webster Car Wash is owned by John Lage, the largest car wash owner in New York City. RWDSU said Lage owns 23 car washes in the metropolitan area, and Lage is under investigation by the New York State Attorney General's office for alleged wage and hour violations. In 2009, Lage was forced to pay $3.4 million to workers for back pay and damages to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Labor Department alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (124 DLR A-12, 7/1/09).
“We are proud of the workers at Webster Car Wash for standing up against their employer,” said Jon Kest, executive director of New York Communities for Change. “John Lage is a giant of the New York City car wash industry, whose bad practices in the past are perfect proof that car wash workers need to be organized to protect themselves against mistreatment.”
According to RWDSU organizer Joseph Dorismond, who helped lead the organizing effort at both Webster Car Wash and Hi-Tek Car Wash, workers at the car wash are not alone in their efforts to remake the industry.
“Car wash workers are declaring loud and clear that the old way of doing business at these establishments is over,” Dorismond said. “Their courage in standing up for themselves sends a powerful message to other car wash and low wage workers throughout New York City: You can fight back against poor wages and working conditions, and you can win by joining the RWDSU.”
The New York drive follows union gains in organizing car wash workers in Los Angeles, where the United Steelworkers has negotiated pioneering collective bargaining agreements with three employers in a similar community-union campaign (36 DLR A-9, 2/23/12).
A representative from Webster Car Wash could not be reached for comment Oct. 22.
By Alicia Biggs
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)