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Building Power For Workers In Southern California

Building Power For Workers In Southern California

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Building Power For Workers In Southern California

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  1. Building Power For Workers In Southern California EARN Conference December 9, 2008

  2. The Project • Build Power to improve conditions for the 10,000+ car wash industry workers in Los Angeles area, by creating a high-profile, industry-wide, USW-affiliated L.A. Car Wash Workers Organizing Committee.

  3. The Workers • Approx. 10,000 workers in L.A. area • 70% are documented non-citizens • 25%+ are undocumented workers • 5% are documented citizens • Majority Latino; monolingual Spanish • Not as transient as thought; average worker has been at same job more than 7 years • 5-6 day/50-60 hour workweek • Est. $12,500 annual earnings per worker • Walk, ride bike or take bus to work • Virtually all non-union, but they want to organize

  4. The Employers • More than 500 car washes in L.A. area • Focus on labor-intensive wash/dry by hand operations (not automated)—preferred by majority of consumers • Average location employs 20-25 workers • Almost $300 million in annual revenues (avg. $600,000/year per establishment) • Highly fragmented; majority of firms are single locations • Western Car Wash Association—employers’ group—may engage them for industry-wide alternative to brutal litigation of workers’ claims.

  5. The Problems • Car wash workers are routinely exploited with respect to most basic labor standards, Often car wash workers are: • Not paid for hours they work • Not paid minimum wage ($7.50/hr. in CA) • Work for tips only • Not provided legally required rest breaks • Subjected to numerous and significant health & safety hazards (esp. chemicals)

  6. The Law • California law became effective in 2007 to clean up worker exploitation and labor violations specifically in the car wash industry. AB 1688 requires all car washes in California to: • Be specially registered to do business in California. • Registration granted only if car wash is in compliance with all state labor regulations. • Creates restitution fund with registration fees. • Post a surety bond of at least $15,000. • Authorize state to review federal tax return information. • Provides important organizing leverage.

  7. CLEAN Carwash Campaign • Collaboration with the Community Labor Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) – a strong diverse coalition of labor, immigrant rights, religious, environmental and community based organizations and worker centers.

  8. Campaign Strategy • To improve living standards and win collective bargaining rights includes creating an incentive, through targeted litigation, complaints to enforcement agencies, and public education, for employers to enter into an agreement with the campaign (the “CLEAN Car Wash Agreement”) in which the employers pledge • to respect minimum standards and permit third-party monitoring of their compliance with the pledge; and • to remain neutral and respect card check or other non-confrontational means of testing majority support for purposes of union recognition.

  9. Labor Standards Enforcement • Work with California Department of Industrial Relations; Cal OSHA; Attorney General; LA City Attorney; LA Department of Public Works, and other enforcement agencies to help conform the industry up to labor standards and promote the organizing strategy of the CLEAN Carwash Agreements and collective bargaining goals.

  10. Campaign Strategy • Once recognition is achieved among a substantial number of car wash employers, the campaign will assist the workers to bargain a contract that will provide funding (through a labor management cooperation trust fund) to insure that all employers abide by labor standards while also raising car wash workers above the bare minimums.