lawsuit

Carwasheros protest in March of 2015. | CityLimits.org

More than a year has passed since laws were signed in the state of New York aimed at improving working conditions and wages for those in the car wash industry. Yet for many workers, the promises outlined in those bills have yet to come to fruition. CityLimits.org reports that lawsuits filed by car wash owners have put the law at a standstill.

But first let’s refresh your memory. We’ve written before about why the laws were originally passed. It has to do with the exploitation of car wash workers in the city, many of which are immigrants that are here illegally and do not know their rights when it comes to wages, tips and hours. The workers were afraid to speak out and risk bringing attention to their immigration statuses.

But last year’s law, called the Car Wash Accountability Act, passed with the goal to regulate hourly pay, tips and weekly schedules. It also required owners to get a license from the city to ensure certain standards were maintained. The law was lauded by workers and their unions, but then a group of car wash owners sued, saying the city was interfering in the collective bargaining process. The law has been delayed since as the lawsuit, filed by the Association of Car Wash Owners, is reviewed.

“The lawsuit is still delaying the implementation of the law, which is a shame because workers need it,” says Janna Pea of RWDSU, or the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. “We don’t know exactly what the timing will be. But we hope soon and are confident it will be upheld.”