A Win at the Car Wash
Carwasheros at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope won a landmark contract in early April. The agreement includes wage hikes, paid time off, sharing of hours and overtime and a $1,500-per-person signing bonus. The car wash owner also agreed to settle a suit over wage and hour violations. The settlement comes after a four-month-long strike during a bitterly cold winter.
“They stood outside the car wash on strike around the clock for more than four months in the most brutal winter, to say to car wash owners around this city that the days of wage theft and abuse in this industry are over,” said Deborah Axt, co-executive director of Make the Road New York.
The contract is the first one negotiated at a Brooklyn car wash, and the ninth one negotiated since the Wash New York campaign launched three years ago. There were several civil disobedience arrests during the campaign, including labor leaders and City Council members.
“Every dollar donated, every cup of hot chocolate dropped off, and every ‘si, se puede’ chanted, made all the difference in achieving this win,” said New York City Council member Brad Lander, who stood on the picket line with the striking workers.
Bike-Share Workers Unite
Bike-share workers in four major cities have voted to unionize despite aggressive anti-union tactics from their employers. Workers in Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, DC, have voted to join Transport Workers United Local 100 (TWU), the NYC-based union that is representing bike-share workers nationally.
“We’re not fueled by negative horror stories, but rather the desire to have a voice at the table and unite as a collective,” Ursula Sandstrom, a bike checker for Capital Bikeshare in DC, told Next City, an online news site that covers urban issues. “This is about protecting us in the future, making sure we can keep doing the job we really like doing.”
Workers at the bike-share programs in all four cities faced a robust anti-union effort from Jackson-Lewis, a law firm known for its anti-labor stance. Management worked to divide workers, by playing favorites and holding closed-door meetings. In the end, their efforts failed. Workers at CitiBike in New York City, Hubway in Boston, Divvy in Chicago and CaBi in DC voted to unionize in the fall and winter of 2014.
“This is a burgeoning and growing industry of public transportation,” TWU’s lead organizer Nicholas Bedell told Labor Press. “We want to start setting standards for employees in the industry so that they can be paid decent, livable wages, can make a career out of it and retire with dignity.”