NEW YORK — Carwash workers in Queens voted to join a union, and labor organizers are calling the vote “the first major victory” in their six-month effort to unionize the industry, The New York Times reported.
The Sept. 9 story stated that workers from Astoria Car Wash and Hi-Tek 10 Minute Lube Inc. voted Saturday to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The union’s president said the organization will now begin collective-bargaining negotiations with the company’s owners.
This marks the first time that workers in New York City carwashes have agreed to join a union. The vote “sends an important message that workers, and especially immigrant workers, are ready to stand up,” union President Stuart Appelbaum said in the story. “They took personal risks of all sorts to make this happen and yet the conditions are so bad in the industry that they felt they didn’t have much to lose by standing up.”
One immigrant worker who has worked at the carwash for five years said the workers were “very happy” about the vote. Messages left for the company’s owner and managers by the newspaper were not returned.
According to the story, many of the workers are illegal immigrants who have been hesitant or unwilling to join a public campaign because they were worried about losing their jobs or deportation.