NEW YORK—The uphill battle to unionize city car washes in New York City scored a victory for unions and workers on Oct. 17.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said in an statement that four car washes signed union contracts in a 24-hour period. Two of the car washes are owned by one of the city’s largest car wash owners, John Lage.
Webster Car Wash and WCA Car Wash, owned by John Lage in the Bronx, and Jomar Car Wash and Sutphin Car Wash in Queens, owned by Fernando Magalhaes all signed three-year contracts with the RWDSU. They join Hi-Tek and Sunny Day Car Washes, which signed contracts earlier this year.
“I’m happy the union contract is official now,” said Rosalino Hernandez by phone on Thursday. Hernandez works at Jomar Car Wash and has been active in rallying for union protections over the past several months. “I feel more protected, supported, and respected.”
The contracts will ensure a number of job security benefits, including an immediate wage increase. The increase will be followed by a schedule for annual raises to bring the hourly wage to at least $9.18 an hour. They also give a guarantee for overtime, and afford certain protections for immigrant workers against discrimination. Part of those protections will require any layoffs to be done by seniority.
According to the new contracts, counting and distribution of tips must now be supervised by a union shop steward.
Other benefits of the contracts include paid leave and bereavement leave, a grievance procedure in cases of termination, and a weekly schedule with a fair distribution of hours.
Bonuses will also be paid for those who work on major national holidays, including Thanksgiving, New Years Day, Easter, and Labor Day.