Car Wash Workers Continue To Unionize
November 27, 2012
Around Town By Neal Tepel
Workers at the Lage Car Wash in SoHo and Sutphin Car Wash in Jamaica have voted to join the RWDSU Car wash workers from throughout NYC are continuing to stand up for decent wages and safer working conditions.
Just a month after employees at two car washes voted overwhelmingly to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) — and weeks after workers at the Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx went on strike — workers at the Lage Car Wash in SoHo and the Sutphin Car Wash in Jamaica have voted to join RWDSU bringing the total to four.
Both sites are owned by John Lage, who in 2009, was forced to pay $3.4 million to workers for back pay and damages after a federal lawsuit.
“The old way of doing business at these establishments are over. Car wash workers across the city have had enough and are fighting back against abusive conditions,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said. “The RWDSU is proud of these workers and will continue to support them – whether it be at the negotiation table or the picket line — as they stand up for a better future for their families. They deserve better and they know that the only way things are going to get better is to fight back against poor wages and working conditions through a union contract.”
These organizing actions are major victories for the nine-month-old WASH New York campaign, a joint effort between Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change. The initiative is supported by the RWDSU.
Santos Lopez, a Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in this country for 8 years and has worked at the Sutphin Car Wash for 4 years, said: "These elections are very important for us because we deserve a fair salary, job security, and other benefits. With a union, they will treat us with respect and dignity. I'm very happy for myself and my co-workers because of the changes we think will happen at our workplace."