July 29, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Bronx, NY — Workers at the WCA Car Wash in Soundview voted unanimously to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), UFCW, becoming the seventh car wash in the city where workers have voted to unionize.
WCA Car Wash, more affectionately known to the workers as the Rico Pobre Car Wash, is owned by John Lage, who is by far the largest car wash owner in New York City, owning more than 20 car washes in the metropolitan area.
Omar Pineda, a 35-year old Rico Pobre worker from El Salvador, said: “My coworkers and I are thrilled with our victory and feel very grateful for all the support from the community. Just as we won our election we are going to win a just contract. We hope that with the union contract we will win the respect we deserve and some benefits as well, like better salary, job security and protection against the chemicals.”
Lage has been under investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office for serious allegations of wage-and-hour violations. In 2009, Lage was forced to pay $3.4 million to workers for back pay and damages after a federal lawsuit. A recent report by RWDSU, found that businesses owned by Lage and his associates could generate as much as $34 million a year in revenue, while paying workers minimum wage salaries or less.