Jose Linares, a Bronx carwash worker, will join thousands of other low-wage workers, community leaders, and union organizers for a “Day of Action” in support of worker’s rights this Tuesday.
“I’m excited and hopeful to see so many people come together marching for workers’ rights, to put a stop to abuses in the workplace,” said Linares, 46, speaking through a translator.
He has worked at a carwash at E. 174th St. and Webster Ave. for the past two-and-a-half years, and works 50-53 hours a week.
Since Linares and his co-workers started organizing against work place abuses, putting pressure on the car wash owner, they have gained access to their tips and overtime pay.
Their hourly pay was increased by 50 cents to $6, but it is still below minimum wage, which is $7.25 in New York State, the same as the federal minimum wage.
“We ask for respect for the workers,” said Linares. “There have been a lot of changes, but there are still things that are problems.”
Linares is from El Savador, and has been in the U.S. for six years. He noted that the recent heat wave has made conditions even worse.
“Its very hot…The car motors are really hot, you have to be next to that all the time,” he said.
“The march and rally will highlight the unprecedented amount of low wage workers organizing,” said Deborah Axt of Make the Road New York, which is working to improve conditions for carwash workers.
“Its a national day of action to raise the national minimum wage,” said Axt. “They will come together with other folks who face retaliation and pressure, and horrible working conditions.”
The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Herald Square, then Linares, along with other workers from car washes, supermarkets, airports, and Domestic Workers United will march to Union Square.
Striking Con Edison employees and Verizon workers and retail store employes are expected to join.
“It’s inspiring and exciting,” said Axt. “We’re hoping for thousands…It is hard for them to take off from work.”
She said that, after the march ends, people will pile into buses and go to carwashes in Harlem, the Bronx and Astoria.”
“We’re trying to unionize, find our rights,” said Linares. “We don’t have sick days.”