February 12, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
It took 13 weeks, but the dozen “washeros” who were fired from the Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx after protesting withheld wages, have finally won back their jobs. (Read More)
“We are helping car wash workers throughout the city with our organizing efforts,” returning worker Juan Campis said. “What we showed today is that there is strength through unity.”
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union [RWDSU], Make the Road New York [MRNY] and New York Communities for Change [NYCC] all championed the Sunny Day workers’ struggle as part of the NY Wash campaign – an innovative effort aimed at cleaning up the state’s notoriously exploitive car wash industry.
“This is a tremendous victory, not just for the workers at Sunny Day, but for workers throughout this city,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said. “With this victory, we forced the company to respect the rights of these brave car ‘washeros.’ We showed that when workers are united, we can stand up and win.”
Sunny Day Car Wash workers made history last December when they voted to join the RWDSU following an earlier job action.
But the victory in the Bronx is especially significant because “washeros” all across the city continue to struggle agains sub-standard working conditions. Earlier this month, freshly unionized workers at the Lage Car Wash located at 124 Sixth Avenue, were told that the owner – New York car wash mogul John Lage – was abruptly shutting the doors, leaving the staff jobless.
NYCC Executive Director Jonathan Westin called workers at the Sunny Day Car Wash “an inspiration” to “washeros” everywhere.
“They’re living proof of what can be accomplished when you stand up, organize and fight back,” Westin said.
Although, Lage’s Soho car wash is expected to be officially shut down on February 22, members of the NY Wash campaign and their allies are working to see that “washeros” there – many with five to seven years experience – successfully secure new jobs elsewhere.
Meanwhile, New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera said that he is very pleased that workers at the Sunny Day Car Wash, at least, have successfully won back their jobs.
“This is a major victory as car washers throughout New York and beyond begin to unionize,” the state senator said.
Campis said that his colleagues showed real courage in resisting unfair treatment and voting to join the union.
“We got organized and were able to return to work today with dignity,” he said.