Carwash Workers Reach Labor Agreements with Two South LA Carwashes
Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO and Mayor Villaraigosa Make the Announcement
(Los Angeles, CA) - The Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) today announced two new contract victories in their ongoing efforts to clean up the Los Angeles carwash industry and protect the rights of its workers. Led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the campaign revealed contracts with Vermont Carwash and Nava's Carwash, both located in South Los Angeles. The agreements with Vermont and Nava's come on the heels of the historic, first ever contract signed for Los Angeles' carwasheros in September 2011, with Bonus Carwash, located in Santa Monica, CA. These three locations in the greater Los Angeles area are now the only unionized carwashes in the country.
These agreements were negotiated by carwasheros with their union, the United Steelworkers (United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union). The Steelworkers are affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the labor federation representing more than 11 million workers across the United States. 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 for employees. The agreement also establishes rights that protect workers from being unfairly punished or dismissed by both car wash companies.
Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO, said, "The AFL-CIO applauds the victory of these workers. The headline 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."
"What these contracts represent are a good paying job, a better standard of living, and a voice on the job for some of our City's most exploited workers," Mayor Villaraigosa said.
"In an industry rampant with wage theft and abusive conditions, these businesses have stepped up to do the right thing."
Edwin Leones, an employee of Nava's Car Wash, said, "We're very excited and proud to finally be union members, and to be the first carwash workers to have a union contract in the city of Los Angeles. 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."
Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said, "Los Angeles continues to lead the way in supporting the efforts of low wage immigrant workers to form their own unions. The bravery of the carwasheros at these two carwashes shows that low wage workers can change their workplace conditions if they organize and stick together."
"The Steelworkers welcome our newest union members," said Bob LaVenture, Director of the United Steelworkers Union District 12, on behalf of its Local 675. "These workers join carwasheros at Bonus Car Wash, where workers are able now to resolve workplace disputes peacefully and quickly. This is the high road to success for workers, for owners, for consumers, and for our wonderful LA community. We will do the same at Vermont and Nava's. Where carwash owners choose to take the low road path of resistance and opposition, we will continue to fight for justice for all workers in this industry in order that they may enjoy the fruits of their labor."
Launched in 2008, the CLEAN Campaign is a labor-community partnership dedicated to combating exploitation and raising standards for workers in the carwash industry. The Campaign includes many community partners, and is spearheaded by the United Steelworkers and the AFL-CIO.
Contact: Josh Goldstein (202) 637-5018