NY Car Wash Workers Routinely Get Hosed

Of course car wash owners in New York are up in arms over a proposal to the City Council to impose a license fee on their operations and require surety bonds. But perhaps they doth protest too much, given the industry’s history of stealing wages from its workers.

A labor department report from 2010 indicated that nearly 8 in 10 car washes in the city were suspected of wage violations, including paying workers below minimum wage and forcing them to split tips with nonservice employees.

Advocates of the proposed law say it will address the problem of owners paying substandard wages, refusing to pay overtime rates and stealing tips. They say some of these business owners have even sold out, stranding employees who are owed back wages.

“We need to make minimum wage, we need overtime. We are very much tired of paying out of our tips if anything is damaged — they are supposed to have some type of insurance to cover this damage,” said one worker.

The proposed laws would require car wash owners to pay $550 fee for a license issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs and to pay $300,000 in surety bonds as insurance for lawsuits or other claims. Owners also would have to pass “character” screenings.

The business owners say that the intent of the proposal is to unionize car wash workers, because before the bill was amended, the surety bond amount was only $30,000 for unionized facilities.

If these businesses were fair to their employees, union or otherwise, it wouldn’t be an issue.

Read the whole story on the New York Post.