Union organizing at the car wash

Still seems like an unlikely bet, but labor organizers, led by the Steelworkers, are looking to unionize the city's car wash workers. It's unlikely because so many employees are illegal immigrants who would be fearful of speaking up about most anything, much less a union drive. Even so, there's amble evidence that some local car wash owners exploit their workers by paying next to nothing in wages. From the NYT:

As organized labor's ranks continue to decline, unions are looking increasingly to low-wage service workers as a source of growth, convinced that these workers -- car washers, janitors, nursing home aides, security guards and pharmacy clerks -- will be eager to join. In some ways, union leaders say, this campaign parallels previous ones in which unions organized thousands of immigrant janitors in Houston and Los Angeles and substantially lifted their wages. In addition to adding members, the carwash campaign hopes to send a strong message to employers to stop taking advantage of workers in an industry where it is common practice.


Randy Crestall, owner of Autospa Chevron Hand Wash in Valencia, a Los Angeles suburb, said that law-abiding owners resented their scofflaw competitors. "They're a blight on our industry," said Mr. Crestall, a former president of the Western Carwash Association. "As good operators, we don't like them to be on the same playing field as us." He said 95 percent of California's car washes were law-abiding, although he acknowledged that many in Los Angeles flout the law.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook