carwashwageCar wash owners in New York say that when minimum wage rises in the state to $15 an hour, customers could have to pay as much as $40 for a car wash. That’s the most recent complaint from car wash owners in the city, which has undergone massive labor reforms in recent years after it was revealed that undocumented workers in particular were being taken advantage of. NY1.com reports that car wash owners say there will be higher prices and fewer workers once the changes go through.

“People are going to stop coming to car washes,” Frank Roman, owner of the Sunny Day Car Wash told the TV station.

The minimum wage hike was approved this spring. Lawmakers have said it must be phased in through the year 2019. In the meantime, car wash owners said they’re looking to automate parts of the car wash process currently carried out by workers, just to save some cash.

That means less people will be needed to put in the elbow-grease many customers prefer at a hand wash. And even though the automation could save car wash owners in labor costs, the equipment itself is expensive and can cost even more to have installed. Either way, owners said the cost will ultimately be passed on to customers.

“The more our labor price goes up, the more our selling price goes up and obviously the sales go down, why?” said Steven Rotlevi, Association of Carwash Owners of New York City. “Because people would like to pay $10 for a wash.”
Regardless, advocates for employees say the reform was necessary and the increase in minimum wage will lead to a better quality of life for workers.