Workers at SoCal Carwashes Win First Contracts

Workers at two more Southern California carwashes won their first contracts with carwash owners after they voted last year to join the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675.

The workers at Vermont Carwash and Nava’s Carwash in South Los Angeles came together in the CLEAN Carwash Campaign to fight for their rights. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a coalition supported by the USW, the AFL-CIO and more than 100 community, faith and labor organizations in Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.cleancarwashla.org.

Today, the carwasheros celebrated their victory at a ceremony with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Says Trumka:

The headlines should read: “Carwash workers make history in LA.” The labor movement and Los Angeles community stand shoulder to shoulder with them and their brother and sister carwash workers across LA who are working to follow in their path.

There are thousands of carwash workers who face deplorable working conditions every day: violations of health and safety laws, wage and hour laws, and anti-discrimination laws. Most of these workers are immigrants who all of them are without the power to fight back against the horrible conditions in which they work.

As part of the agreements, the carwasheros will receive a pay increase, additional safety equipment, and on-the-job training to prevent injury and illness.  The agreement also establishes rights that protect workers from being unfairly punished or dismissed by both car wash companies. Edwin Leones, a worker at Nava’s Car Wash, said:

We were able to negotiate fair schedules and a pay raise. But most importantly, we’ve been able to get a voice on the job and have a say in our conditions.

Villaraigosa says the contracts represent “a good paying job, a better standard of living, and a voice on the job for some of our city’s most exploited workers.”

Trumka is on a two-day California trip to highlight and support the efforts of low-wage, immigrant workers in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Earlier today he spoke at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) conference in Los Angeles. In Sacramento tomorrow, he will join with domestic workers who are mobilizing to pass a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in the state legislature.