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NY protests begin: Carwashing compared to slavery

March 08, 2012
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QUEENS, NY — Protests have gotten underway over unfair working conditions for carwash workers in New York, and employees are coming forward, proclaiming they were not only treated unfairly, but also put in danger, a DNAinfo.com story said.

The March 6 story quoted protester and carwash worker Nelson Hernandez who said his eyes would burn for hours after he left work. Raul Perez said the soap he was forced to use would burn the hair off of his legs. Carlos Garcia also said in the story that he asked if he could have some gloves and a mask to wear, but was ignored.

All three men said they were afraid to report the claims because they feared they would lose their jobs. But, now, saying that they feel they have suffered enough, all are proud to be a part of the protests against unfair employee situations in and throughout New York City.

As PC&D reported earlier this week, a coalition of community and labor organizations started a campaign meant to reform illegal practices within the carwash business. Dan Morris, communications director for the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, said that workers from across the city are meeting to discuss their concerns and share their interest in transforming the carwash industry.

A similar campaign in Los Angeles resulted in agreements between a few California carwashes and their workers.

The DNAinfo.com story said drums were played and signs were hoisted by former and current workers outside of the Metro Car Wash in Forest Hills, NY, on Tuesday.

Ana Maria Archila, executive director of Make the Road New York, thanked those who attended the rally and said, “It’s a slavery of people who wash our cars and make them look pretty while their hands are destroyed, while their lives are destroyed, because of burns, because of exploitation,” according to the story.

Queens Councilman James Sanders, chairman of the Council’s civil service and labor committee, said in the story that he would push to set up a hearing to hear testimony on how employees were unfairly treated.