What is the CLEAN Carwash Campaign?
CLEAN stands for Community Labor Environmental Action Network. CLEAN is a diverse coalition of immigrant rights, legal, and labor organizations committed to improving the lives of working class families in the greater Los Angeles area. The CLEAN Carwash Campaign is a joint effort between CLEAN and the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee (CWOC) of the United Steel Workers. Together CWOC and CLEAN work to support carwash workers standing up for their rights, improve health and safety protections for the 10,000 carwash workers in the greater Los Angeles area, and help keep our water and environment clean for LA communities.
The Car Wash Industry
The carwash industry is a constantly expanding empire with about 1,500 establishments in California alone. In 2002, some car wash operators reported about $5 billion in income yet many refuse to pay their employees the legal 8-dollar minimum wage.
- Carwash workers earn, on average, of $12, 932, which is well below the poverty level.
- Carwash owners often pay a daily rate between $35 and $50 for a 10 to 12 hour day of work, which also well below minimum wage.
- Many carwash workers work as “propineros” or tips only workers, in which they earn only tips and no hourly wages.
- During busy summer hours carwash workers will work in extreme weather without breaks or water which causes heat exhaustion, heat illness, and dehydration.
- Workers are not provided safety equipment and are at risk for multiple health complications resulting from exposure to chemicals, falls and slips, and repetitive heavy lifting and washing methods.
The Campaign is committed to:
- Supporting the right of carwash workers to organize into a union and bargain collectively
- Improving working conditions and ensuring that carwash employers meet labor standards and abide by fair workplace practices.
- Demanding environmental clean up to ensure that wastewater from carwashes does not contaminate our neighborhoods, rivers or oceans.
After 5 years of organizing, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign and carwash workers were able to successfully negotiate contracts with three carwashes in Los Angeles: Bonus Carwash in Santa Monica, and Vermont Navas Carwashes in South LA. These are the only carwashes with contracts not just in the Los Angeles area, but in the entire nation.
What you can do as a consumer:
DO NOT patronize any of the carwashes on the Campaign’s boycott list.
When you patronize other full-service carwashes, look around.
- Are the workers inside the wash tunnel wearing protective gear such as gloves, aprons and boots?
- Are the workers in the detailing area wearing gloves and facemasks to protect them from the chemicals used to clean the tires?
- Is there a shady area where workers can take a break or have a meal away from the dirty water and chemicals?
Ask Questions of the owner or manager on duty.
- Are all the workers being paid at least the minimum wage for all the hours they work?
- Does the owner provide drinking water to all the workers?
- Are workers given adequate time and space for breaks and meals?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, consider another carwash, or go to a union carwash.
No matter which carwash you patronize, always TIP the workers well.
- Many workers report they work long hours for tips only. In 2007, state and federal employment investigators found that many carwash workers in our area are paid below the minimum wage in violation of state employment laws.
- Carwash workers frequently do not make enough money to keep them out of poverty.
CLEAN Carwash Campaign
516 W. Vernon Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90037