Another New York car wash has decided to join the union amid calls to regulate the industry. New York Daily News reports that SLS Car Wash in Bushwick is the largest car wash business to unionize in the country at 50 employees. The group voted 35 to 5 to unionize.
This is the 11th group to join the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. Workers said they hope to benefit now from paid overtime, tips and scheduled days off. The workers call themselves “carwashheros.”
“Before we organized a union we worked under a lot of stress,” SLS worker Cheik Umat Balde said in a release. “The managers will always yell at us to work faster. Sometimes they will call us stupid. We had to deal with unknown chemicals with no protections.”
It is common in the industry for workers, especially those from other countries, to be forced to work long hours without proper compensation for overtime, etc. Car wash employees also complain about having to handle hazardous chemicals on the job. The car wash industry has taken heat in recent years for these common problems.
“Workers across the city are coming together through the union to make real change in the car wash industry. Together they are fighting for fair treatment, safer workplaces and better pay. That’s what’s this is all about,” RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said.