The mayor of New York City this week joined other elected officials in supporting a new union for the city’s car wash employees, who’ve recently been in the news for protesting low and unpaid wages.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “This is part of a bigger fight. This is the progressive city that we will built together, and it will be my honor to fight shoulder to shoulder with you — many, many victories ahead.”
In March, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito proposed a bill that aims to curb labor violations by car wash business owners by requiring them to register and be licensed. “It’s outrageous that anyone, especially a low-wage worker, is only now being paid wages that were earned as long as eight years ago,” she said at the time.
De Blasio joined other city officials at the second-annual rally of the Car Wash Workers Assembly organized by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The car wash workers, calling themselves the “carwasheros,” recently resolved a labor dispute with their employer in Queens. They had claimed their wages, which were as low as $4 per hour, were being withheld. The carwahseros scored a major victory after the attorney general won a $4 million settlement with the car wash owner, John Lage. According to the RWDSU:
“We are here at our assembly today because united we are stronger,” said Ernesto Salazar, an El Salvador native who works at Webster Car Wash in the Bronx. “We are here with the most powerful people in New York City to ask them to continue to support us. And to show the bad bosses that we are not alone and we will win!”
Another worker, Miguel Portillo, who works at Jomar Car Wash in the Bronx, said: “This assembly is very important to us. We want all carwasheros in New York City to come together and join our fight. When we have every carwashero fighting, I know we can win. We can win more than we can imagine.”