News from the Industry
Owner of eight CA washes agrees to huge settlement
Some carwash employees in Sacramento, CA, and in other cities, will share in a $1 million state settlement paid for labor-law violations. California's attorney general found workers at eight carwashes were denied minimum wage, overtime pay, meal breaks and other benefits.
The bulk of the settlement, $800,000, will be split among the workers and ex-workers. The carwashes also must pay $50,000 in back payroll taxes and $100,000 in civil penalties.
Over a year ago, the attorney general's office sued the eight carwashes and their principal owner, Dipu Haque Sikder. The case was settled in Los Angeles Superior Court with Sikder admitting no liability or wrongdoing.
"There is a strong public interest in distributing unpaid wages restitution to alleged employee victims … as promptly as possible," state lawyers said in court papers. "The victims are generally unskilled, low-wage, non-English speakers who are at high risk of being unemployed and without resources and especially vulnerable to financial hardship."
Carwash workers emerge as heroes following bus crash
After a school bus full of students veered out of control while on State Route 64 in Bradenton, FL, three carwash employees stepped up and became real-life heroes.
Around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 a bus was traveling down the road and seemed out of control, according to another bus driver, Cynthia Futch, who was driving the other way down the street. Apparently, the bus had just rear-ended a semi-truck, causing the driver's legs to get pinned making him unable to use the brakes.
Three employees from the Clear Sunset Car Wash saw what was happening and chased after the bus. One employee, Sammy Long who is also a former paratrooper, was able to jump aboard the bus and apply the brakes. The other two men, Andrew Fisher and Jessie Brown, jumped onto the side of the bus in an effort to slow it down. The bus was then run into a grassy area and stopped.
Futch was able to park her bus and run over to help.
All three carwash employees, Futch and all of the emergency response team members were honored on Jan. 24 with Meritorious Service Awards from the Manatee County School Board.
Fisher, who served as a naval special warfare operator, said of his award, "I'm going to save it to hang in my office after I graduate."
Hundreds sign petition to stop carwash/c-store
Almost 300 residents in Jupiter, FL, signed a petition to stop the construction of a combination carwash, gas station and c-store.
Opposed residents feel the business would decrease property values, bring crime and increase traffic.
Even so, the town council has shown strong support for the gas station. The council approved the business as part of the overall master plan for the neighborhood in 2004, and the council twice approved extensions to build.
The business could be stopped in two ways. If the approval for the project expires before construction begins, the council could deny another extension. Also, the property owners could withdraw their plan.
Update: One CA union carwash never reopened
It has been five months since the CLEAN Carwash Campaign announced union contracts with two carwashes in Santa Monica, CA, and PC&D has learned that one wash never reopened or operated under the agreement.
Justin McBride with the CLEAN Carwash Campaign spoke exclusively with PC&D and said that Marina Car Wash had actually closed in late 2010.
Last year, when the union agreement was finalized, Marina's owner signed the contract stating that he would operate using union workers when he was able to reopen the business, McBride said.
Since then, the land owner decided to lease to someone else, and the carwash began operation under a different name with a different owner and no union employees.
Carwash owner admits to political sham
Carwash and pizza shop owner Joseph Gallucci of Akron, OH, admitted to jurors that County Auditor Frank Russo gave him money and a job with the county after he agreed to run a "sham" campaign against him for the 2006 county auditor election race.
Gallucci testified that he falsely ran as the Republican candidate and was pressured by Russo to not drop out until Russo was left with zero challengers.
When Gallucci decided he did want to drop out, Russo offered up $2,000 per month in cash to stay in the so-called race. Gallucci obliged and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Kelley showed evidence in court that the money was delivered to Gallucci's carwash.
The federal court hearing is ongoing and no decisions have been made by jurors.
Lexus SUV exits carwash, then goes out of control
A Lexus SUV caused a bit of mayhem after it exited a carwash tunnel in Toronto and then took off unattended.
A carwash attendant was able to jump into the SUV while it was taking off and tried to get it under control. However, the SUV ended up traveling across a parking lot and then several lanes of traffic and ended up in the Scarborough creek.
Surprisingly, no one was hurt in the Saturday afternoon crash. However, the Lexus did hit another vehicle, causing some damage.
The carwash attendant was also able to return to work after the incident.
Man charged with drunk carwashing
A man was charged with having an open container of alcohol while driving through a carwash in Green, OH.
The incident occurred last December.Carwash employees told police they saw the man drinking beer while going through the carwash.
Officers later found the suspect behind the carwash, and he admitted to consuming alcohol while his car was being washed.
Three cars involved in carwash crash
An employee at the Dolphin Car Wash in Minooka, IL, got into a car that had just gone through the tunnel and shifted it into the drive position when it "lurched" forward and struck another vehicle that was waiting to be dried.
Jacob J. Meyerhoff, 19, the employee involved in the accident, said the there was an "automatic shifter on the steering wheel" and said he did not have his foot on the brake or gas pedal.
The car that was hit ended up hitting another parked car with the car's owner inside. The car owner complained of lower back pain after the incident, but refused medical treatments.
All three cars were damaged in the incident.
Carwash falls victim to funny money
A carwash owner in Omaha, NE, is out $100 and two wash cycles after two customers paid with fake $50 bills.
The owner of Symphony of Suds Car Wash called police after confronting a customer he suspected of paying with counterfeit money.
The owner's daughter is the cashier at the carwash, and she had two SUVs drive up together and pay for carwashes using $50 bills.
The daughter showed her father the second $50 bill, and he confronted the suspect while they were still in the wash.
The owner told the suspect that he wanted the money back, and the suspect replied with an expletive and, "You're not getting your money back." The suspect then drove away.
New water use rules to nix at-home washing
New water restrictions in Lubbock, TX, will start April 1 and at-home carwashing will not be allowed. The city needs to limit their water usage as it looks like a dry summer looms ahead. Director of Water Resources & Environmental Mgt. Aubrey Spear said, "The weather forecasts are calling for continued dry weather. At least for the next three months and possibly into the summer. We need to plan ahead and make sure we have plenty of water."
Spear also said there won't be any warnings to violators who will be charged a $200 fine.
Andrew Zamora, president of Racer Classic Car Wash, said that a professional carwash is the best eco-friendly choice. "When you and I wash our car in the driveway at home, we will use anywhere between 80 and 180 gallons in a 10-minute period."
Mike's washes its 100,000,000th vehicle
Mike's Carwash announced it washed its 100,000,000th vehicle at its W. 86th Street location in Indianapolis on Feb. 6.
Mike's, which is headquartered in Indianapolis and has 39 locations in Indiana and Ohio, has been washing cars since 1948.
The chain, which is one of PC&D's Top 50 carwashes, said it plans on opening more locations in 2012.
Closed wash leaves useless coupons, big tax bill
A carwash in Waukesha, WI, that owes almost $53,000 in property taxes closed with no notice, and now customers are left holding useless coupons.
Dan Weber, a customer of Dirt Stripper Touchless Car Wash, recently pulled up to the carwash and realized it was no longer open. Weber is out about $50 after purchasing discount coupons online a year ago. But Weber may not be the only party out money due to the wash closing.
Waukesha County tax records show that Dirt Stripper owes $52,744 in property taxes dating back to 2008.
Weber said that when he pulled into the wash, the automated system said "out of order," and he soon realized the open sign was turned off.
Also, the business' trash cans are full, and garbage is spilling out in the parking lot. Police say they have not received any complaints about the coupons.