Hilary Klein, lead organizer of Make the Road New York, and Luna Ranjit, executive director of Adhikaar, a Queens-based Nepalese support group, talk about their efforts to organize service workers, like manicurists and car wash attendants, for minimum wage and better working conditions.
Car washers, taxi workers, livery cab drivers and union leaders showed up on Manhattan’s West Side Wednesday to put pressure on car wash owners they say are abusing workers.
The campaign is by Workers Aligned for a Sustainable and Healthy New York (WASH NY) and supporters pledged to help meet the car washers’ needs.
The washers say the unfair working conditions include getting paid below-minimum wage, no accurate accounting for tips, and a lack of protective gear against dangerous chemicals.
The attorney for one of the accused car wash owners is refuting the claims.
*Taxi Workers Alliance, Machinists Union call upon drivers to boycott carwashes where workers are being abused*
At a press conference this afternoon at the Westside Highway Car Wash, New York City taxi workers and black car drivers announced that they are helping the WASH New York campaign to pressure car wash owners to improve conditions in an industry plagued by rampant wage and hour violations, and unsafe working conditions. The drivers were joined by car wash workers, as well as community activists and union leaders.
“We are proud to offer our help and support to WASH NY and to stand with the car wash workers in their struggle for just and fair working conditions. Taxi workers know firsthand the great value of car wash workers’ labor and understand all too well their struggle for justice and rights. We call upon all taxi drivers to boycott carwashes where workers are being abused and instead to rely on those where workers’ rights are respected,” said Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the 15,000-member New York Taxi Workers Alliance.
“Just like the black car drivers, workers in the carwash industry are recent immigrants. And their employers think they can take advantage of them. We pledge today to inform the drivers we represent that they should avoid using carwashes identified by WASH NY as places where workers are abused. And we will also encourage drivers to use carwashes where employers have agreed to do the right thing,” said Jim Conigliaro, Directing Business Representative of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15, which represents black car drivers throughout the city.
“We are proud to be here with representatives of the Taxi Workers Alliance and the Machinists Union who represent New York’s black car drivers. They have made the choice to stand up, speak out and act on behalf of the carwash workers. What a powerful statement their support means. Tens of thousands of drivers in this city will be hearing from their representatives about this campaign – about the terrible conditions workers face,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW).
“We decided to join this campaign because we want to be paid a decent salary, we want protection from the chemicals we use on the job, and we want to be treated with dignity,” said Asai Nicolas Flores who works at the LMC car wash in Astoria.
“We want to thank the taxi drivers and the black car drivers for their support. We are already united as car wash workers and with their support, now our campaign is even stronger,” said Julian Cruz, who works at the LMC in East Harlem.
*Taxi Workers Alliance, Machinists Union call upon drivers to boycott carwashes where workers are being abused *
April 11, NOON, Westside Highway Car Wash, 638 West 47th Street, New York, NY
WHAT: New York City taxi workers and black car drivers are helping the WASH NY campaign being conducted by Make the Road New York and New York Communities for Change to pressure car wash owners to improve conditions in an industry plagued by rampant wage and hour violations, and unsafe working conditions. The drivers will be joined by car wash workers, as well as community activists and union leaders. Workers will be available for interviews and English translation will be provided.
Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director, New York City Taxi Workers Alliance;
Jim Conigliaro, Directing Business Representative, International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 15;
Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW);
Car wash workers, community activists, and representatives of WASH New York.
WHERE: Westside Highway Car Wash, 638 West 47th Street, New York, NY
WHEN: Wednesday, April 11, NOON.