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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Amid driving rain, Sunny Day Car Wash workers claim victory in 3-month strike and return to work in Bronx

Striking Bronx car wash workers returned to their jobs Monday after winning a  fight against the boss they say wrongly fired them.

Although Monday’s driving rain meant workers at the Sunny Day Car Wash  tended to only a trickle of cars, they said they were happy to be back on the  job after three months on strike.

“It feels so good to come back to work,” said Nelson Aquino, 27, who has  worked drying off cars at Sunny Day for a year. “It feels really good – after  all that was said – he had to give us back our jobs.”

Workers claimed Frank Roman, the car wash owner, hadn’t paid the employees  the $5.50 to $7.25 an hour he owed them for three weeks.

A dozen workers, known as “carwasheros,” staged a walk out Nov. 11 at the  car wash near the Third Avenue Bridge in protest.

“We used to work, and we didn’t get paid on time,” Aquino said. “Or,  sometimes our checks would bounce. That’s when we decided that we’d go on  strike.”

Roman responded by firing them.

But, backed by community organizations like Make the Road New York, and the  Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, the carwasheros spent months  demonstrating outside the business, demanding their jobs back and back pay.

The strike came to a head late last year when local politicians confronted a  manager at the car wash about the firing. Roman also tried to keep the  demonstrating carwasheros 50 feet from Sunny Day, but a Bronx Supreme Court  justice denied his request for a temporary restraining order.

The National Labor Relations Board negotiated with Roman to get the employees  back to work.

“It was really hard,” said Maria Gonzales, an organizer with New York  Communities for Change, which helped the carwasheros in their jobs fight. “They  didn’t have any money. They didn’t have a job. But they always kept up their  strong spirit.”

“This is a day we’ve been waiting for.”

Roman, the owner of Sunny Day Car Wash, did not return a call for comment  Monday.

Investigators from the NLRB are pursuing recovering the carwasheros’ back  pay for the time they were let go, according to Karen Fernbach, regional  director for the National Labor Relations Board.

Rocio Valero, a community organizer for New York Communities for Change,  said the group would continue to monitor Roman.

“The owner definitely knows that he is being watched,” Valero said outside  the car wash. “We hope he does the right thing.”

Back at Sunny Day, the carwasheros said they were buoyed by their win.

“We feel great, because basically we won against the boss,” said Juan Campis,  20, who worked at the car wash for only three months before he was fired.

“A lot of the time, they can do whatever they want. But it’s not like that  anymore. The workers fought back.”

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