Building Power For
Workers In Southern
December 9, 2008
Build Power to improve conditions
for the 10,000+ car wash industry
workers in Los Angeles area, by
creating a high-profile, industry-
wide, USW-affiliated L.A. Car Wash
Workers Organizing Committee.
Approx. 10,000 workers in L.A. area
70% are documented non-citizens
25%+ are undocumented workers
5% are documented citizens
Majority Latino; monolingual Spanish
Not as transient as thought; average worker has been at
same job more than 7 years
5-6 day/50-60 hour workweek
Est. $12,500 annual earnings per worker
Walk, ride bike or take bus to work
Virtually all non-union, but they want to organize
More than 500 car washes in L.A. area
Focus on labor-intensive wash/dry by hand operations
(not automated)—preferred by majority of consumers
Average location employs 20-25 workers
Almost $300 million in annual revenues (avg.
$600,000/year per establishment)
Highly fragmented; majority of firms are single
Western Car Wash Association—employers’ group—
may engage them for industry-wide alternative to brutal
litigation of workers’ claims.
Car wash workers are routinely exploited with
respect to most basic labor standards, Often car
wash workers are:
Not paid for hours they work
Not paid minimum wage ($7.50/hr. in CA)
Work for tips only
Not provided legally required rest breaks
Subjected to numerous and significant health &
safety hazards (esp. chemicals)
California law became effective in 2007 to clean up
worker exploitation and labor violations specifically in
the car wash industry. AB 1688 requires all car washes
in California to:
Be specially registered to do business in California.
Registration granted only if car wash is in compliance with all state
Creates restitution fund with registration fees.
Post a surety bond of at least $15,000.
Authorize state to review federal tax return information.
Provides important organizing leverage.
CLEAN Carwash Campaign
Collaborationwith the Community
Labor Environmental Action Network
(CLEAN) – a strong diverse coalition
of labor, immigrant rights, religious,
environmental and community based
organizations and worker centers.
To improve living standards and win collective bargaining
rights includes creating an incentive, through targeted
litigation, complaints to enforcement agencies, and public
education, for employers to enter into an agreement with the
campaign (the “CLEAN Car Wash Agreement”) in which
the employers pledge
1) to respect minimum standards and permit third-party
monitoring of their compliance with the pledge; and
2) to remain neutral and respect card check or other non-
confrontational means of testing majority support for
purposes of union recognition.
Labor Standards Enforcement
Work with California Department of Industrial
Relations; Cal OSHA; Attorney General; LA
City Attorney; LA Department of Public Works,
and other enforcement agencies to help
conform the industry up to labor standards and
promote the organizing strategy of the CLEAN
Carwash Agreements and collective bargaining
Once recognition is achieved among a
substantial number of car wash employers, the
campaign will assist the workers to bargain a
contract that will provide funding (through a
labor management cooperation trust fund) to
insure that all employers abide by labor
standards while also raising car wash workers
above the bare minimums.