ALBANY, NEW YORK
State legislators came out to wash cars alongside carwasheros, a group of immigrant carwash employees. They were not looking for jobs but came out to show their support of a bill that would require carwash employers to pay workers minimum wage before tips.
Carwasheros claim that unsteady employment and low wages make it hard to make ends meet. They have been fighting for five years to push this legislation through, and now it looks and though the bill has a fighting chance. On Monday, the Assembly passed the bill and supporters of the bill are hopeful that it will pass the Senate before the legislative session closes for the year.
Basically, the bill would require car wash owners to pay employees minimum wage. The current law allows car wash owners to figure in a tip credit when determining employees minimum wage. Currently, cities outside New York City in the state of New York are required to pay employees $9.70 an hour. However, carwash owners assume employees will make $2.35 an hour and therefore pay only $7.35 an hour. Carwasheroes claim that this assumption is not always the case and many workers end up working for less than minimum wage.
Carwasheros spokesman Margareto Perez, claims that at the end of the day often times there are not enough tips to go around for all the employees. He even goes as far to accuse carwash owners of stealing tips and pocketing their hard earned pay. A 2008 study conducted by the Department of Labor seems to back up Perez’s claim. The study found that four out of five carwash owners were stealing worker’s tips and wages.
In a statement, Perez said,“Many people don’t understand what we go through, they don’t get it. Which is why this is so important to get our wages and do what’s fair.”
Workers say that even though The Association of Car Wash Owners has an internal compliance program, wage theft is still a big problem industry wide.
Assemblywoman Michelle Solages, D-Elmont, who is in support of the bill said, “We go through our day to day activities without thinking about the people behind us who aid us in our world, as a government official, I do everything I can to pull people out of the shadows and getting a decent pay to workers so that they can support their families is what we need to do here in Albany.”
Read the full story at The Legislative Gazette.