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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Bronx car-wash workers at Sunny Day Car Wash walk off job in pay spat

The workers say they want to unionize and that they haven’t been paid in weeks. “Washeros” at the Sunny Day Car Wash in the Bronx are protesting in front after not being paid for three weeks. They are demanding their back wages, their jobs back and union recognition. They staged a 1 day walkout and were fired.

Immigrant workers who want to form a union at a Bronx car wash have walked off the job, saying their boss hasn’t paid them in weeks.

More than a dozen men picketed in front of Sunny Day Car Wash on Third Ave. Tuesday.

“Carwasheros united will never be defeated!” the workers chanted in Spanish.

The strike began after about a dozen workers, who say they haven’t been paid in three weeks, decided not to show up on Sunday in protest.

“We’re tired of this. We’re working in the cold. We need money to pay our rent,” said Nelson Aquino [member of Make the Road New York], 28, who earns $5.50 an hour plus tips drying cars. “Even when they give us a check, it bounces because there’s no funds.”

The manager texted them all Monday to say they were fired, said Aquino, who is from Guatemala.

Upset, they sought out a worker at nearby Webster Car Wash, where employees recently joined the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union. He got the union and community groups involved.

“Right now, this is an unfair-labor-practice strike because he has fired people for exercising their rights,” said Larry Cary, the union’s lawyer. “That’s illegal.”

Cary said a majority of the 22 washers at Sunny Day have now signed up for the union, making Sunny Day the third New York City car wash to attempt to unionize.

“They heard about our campaign from other workers. These car wash workers are organizing themselves on their own,” said New York Communities for Change organizer Rocio Valerio Gonzalez.

After a manager called the cops Tuesday, the workers stopped blocking the entrance on police orders but kept protesting. Eventually, each worker went into the manager’s office and came out with a check for one week’s pay.

“Right now, this is an unfair-labor-practice strike because he [the boss] has fired people for exercising their rights,” says Larry Cary, the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union’s lawyer. “That’s illegal.”

The manager slammed and locked the door when reporters asked for comment. The owner could not be reached for comment.

The workers say they will keep picketing until they are paid in full, get their jobs back and the union is recognized.

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