NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Workers at two car washes in the Bronx walked off the job Saturday, accusing their employers of retaliating against them after they voted to join a union.

The workers were to go on strike Saturday at the Webster Car Wash, 1738 Webster Ave., and the WCA Car Wash – also known as the Rico Pobre car Wash, at 1440 Westchester Ave.

The workers left to protest what they called “ongoing harassment and retaliation” from store managers after they organized and voted to unionize. The workers also said management had not responded to calls for better health and safety conditions, according to a news release.

“These courageous ‘carwasheros’ at Webster & ‘Rico Pobre’ voted within the last year to join our union and have been harassed and threatened ever since,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a news release. “We deplore the unfair, harsh and anti-union actions this owner used. These workers want basic respect and dignity on the job.”

The Webster Car Wash workers voted to join the union last October, and the WCA car wash workers took the same vote in July, the release said.

But the workers claimed that car wash owners and management “targeted the union’s representatives, and punished workers by changing rules in retaliation for supporting the union,” the release said.

Car wash employees said they have not been able to address their issues or begin bargaining with owner John Lage.

“With the union, we have tried addressing our issues with Lage directly, but he has only given us the run-around,” Mexican immigrant Milton Munoz, 30, said in the release. “We know that with this protest and the support of the community we can get fair proposals from Lage at the bargaining table, and sign a fair contract that will guarantee our basic rights.”

Lage has not issued a comment in published reports.

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