Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

A controversial plan to require expensive licenses for New York City’s car wash businesses still has not been brought up for a vote at City Hall.

According to the New York Observer, there’s not even a date yet selected to bring the bill up for a vote, raising the possibility that it has not gained support among elected officials. The bill was introduced in March by council president Melissa Mark-Viverito after strong support from labor unions.

Mark-Viverito proposed a version of the bill last year, but it never gained momentum. If passed, it would require all car washes in the city to be licensed and to renew the license every year, giving the city greater oversight of the industry. The bill’s proposal follows the recent resolution of a high-profile labor dispute in Queens. The workers there said they were due hundreds of thousands in unpaid wages, which were small to begin with. Before they unionized, they said they were being paid $4 per hour with no overtime pay.

According to the Observer:

“She feels really passionate about the struggles of car wash workers,” said Councilman Brad Lander, one of two council members to attend a rally outside a car wash in Brooklyn yesterday. “I’m confident it’ll be moving forward–I don’t have a timetable.”

Mr. Lander is a deputy leader in the council and one of the body’s most influential members. Joining him was Councilman Carlos Menchaca, a fellow liberal representing a neighboring Brooklyn district, who said organizers needed to continue to “shed light” on the issue of car wash owners allegedly stealing wages from workers, many of whom are immigrants.

The New York State Car Wash Association, a trade association representing car wash operators, has been cool to the legislation. Car wash owners expressed frustration in a City Council hearing earlier this year about the new regulations and the potential of the expensive surety bond to cripple their businesses. It’s possible that the $300,000 surety bond proposed in the legislation could be reduced after backroom negotiations, sources say.