Finally, Justice for
Car Wash Workers
By Stuart Appelbaum, President
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, UFCW
When the New York State Senate passed a
bill amending the sub-minimum wage for
car wash workers on June 5 and the
Assembly passed the same bill a day later, the state legislature sent a clear
message to car wash employers that their workers in New York City,
Westchester and Long Island should be paid at least the minimum wage.
Under current law car wash owners have been allowed to pay workers well
below the minimum wage. It’s a confusing and unjust system and has often
led to wage theft in the industry. The new law will be a revolutionary change
for underpaid workers, too many of whom often suffer from wage theft, and
are forced to struggle to survive in one of the nation’s most expensive places
to live. It’s a resounding victory for car wash workers, who have been
fighting for their rights and better pay since 2012, when the RWDSU, Make
the Road New York and New York Communities for Change began working
to reform an industry that was rife with exploitation.
The current system – which bases car wash minimum wages
based upon location, car wash size, and anticipated tips per
employee – has created a confusing web of 8 different possible subminimum
wages in New York. That confusion often provides
employers with an outrageous license to steal, and even wellmeaning
employers have sometimes run afoul of the law due to its
At labor board hearings held last year, officials and the public
heard first-hand about the struggles workers affected by subminimum
wages are experiencing. Workers have testified about their
inability to live in dignity because they can’t afford decent housing for
their families; and how they can’t look for other work because they
cannot afford adequate transportation. Workers struggle with paying
their bills and putting food on the table.
For the car wash workers in New York City – especially those without
union representation – sub-minimum wages have been a vehicle for
wage theft and systemic underpayment. Investigations have shown that
employers don’t always make up the extra pay for workers when tips are
short; and car wash workers don’t always receive the tips customers
presume are going into their pockets.
The new law would take away one major opportunity for
unscrupulous car wash owners to underpay their workers, and that’s
important in an industry where operators have been fined and directed
to make restitution for wage theft to the tune of millions of dollars.
Banning the so-called “tip credit” in the car
wash industry downstate would help lift up 5,000
mostly immigrant car wash workers in New
York. We applaud the state legislature and look
forward to swift action by Governor Cuomo.
Caribbean L 12 ife, June 14–20, 2019 BQ
licenses for all
groups have asked Gianaris to use his
power to convince the State Senate to
commit to passing the Driver’s Licenses
and Privacy Act.
The legislative chamber ends session
in the middle of this month, and that
worries immigrants who depend on a
car to commute to work or school.
With or without this legislation,
undocumented immigrants are driving.
Why not ensure that they have licenses
to boost the economy while making
Legislators have an obligation to do
what is in the best interest of public
safety and ensure that all drivers have a
driver’s license in the state, so that each
driver is trained, certified, registered,
inspected and insured.
This would mean that thousands
of immigrants living in the shadows
can take their children to school, go
to medical appointments and drive to
their jobs without fear that a routine
police traffic stop can put them on the
road to deportation.
It’s time for the Senate to act. Call
Gianaris’ office at 718-728-0960 and tell
him to get this done.
Join the Celebration
75 Yeararars of No-Kill
Action and Compassion
By Schneps Media
New York granted driver’s licenses
to undocumented immigrants up until
the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Then-Governor George Pataki, in the
wake of the disaster, instituted new
rules that mandated that drivers have
a Social Security number to request or
maintain their licenses.
After years of struggling to restore
the benefit to undocumented New Yorkers,
the first “green light” is finally visible
on a road full of stops.
This week, the Green Light NY bill
that would grant driver’s licenses to
undocumented residents was approved
by the Assembly, but the legislation
has yet to be ratified by the Senate to
The fate of around 265,000 undocumented
New Yorkers hangs in the balance,
but that’s apparently not enough
to motivate the leaders of this legislative
Although Senate Deputy Majority
Leader Michael Gianaris has said he
supports the bill, the Democratic-led
Senate continues to refuse to bring
the bill to a vote. Immigrant advocacy
A D O P T A P E T T O D A Y !
A COOPERATIVE ADOPTION EVENT:
KOREAN K9 &
NORTH SHORE ANIMAL
LAZY SUZY CAFE & SHOP
703 HART ST. • Brooklyn, NY
SATURDAY • JUNE 15
11:30 AM - 4:30 PM
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