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Community, Labor Organizations Looking To Reform Car Wash Industry

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A labor battle is brewing in the city.

It worked in Los Angeles and now there is a push in New York City to unionize car wash workers.

A coalition of community and labor organizations says the workers, most of whom are immigrants, are often paid less than the $7.25 an hour minimum wage and lack protective gear.

Dan Morris, communications director for the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, says the campaign will work to reform the illegal practices within the car wash business.

“You’ve seen just these individual car washes viewed as these small businesses that really don’t have any relationship to a larger industry and that really isn’t true,” Morris said. “That’s a big part of changing the perception and understanding of the way the car washes operate in order to transform some of the worst practices.”

He added that workers from across the city are meeting to discuss their shared concerns and interest in transforming the industry.

Morris said car wash workers want to be able to exercise their rights without fear of retaliation.

“You’re going to see plenty of key stakeholders and influential people around the city, and hopefully the state-level as well, echoing that these workers are simply trying to exercise the same right that has been afforded to all other workers in this city and frankly, in this country,” Morris said.

Car wash managers and owners oppose the unionizing efforts.

A similar campaign in Los Angeles resulted in collective bargaining agreements between at least three car wash companies and their employees.